Session

Technical Session 13: Future Missions/Capabilities

Location

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Abstract

Solar Cruiser is a Small Satellite Technology Demonstration Mission (TDM) of Opportunity to mature solar sail propulsion technology to enable near-term, high-priority breakthrough science missions as defined in the Solar and Space Physics Decadal Survey. Solar Cruiser will demonstrate a “sailcraft” platform with pointing control and attitude stability comparable to traditional platforms, upon which a new class of Heliophysics missions may fly instruments. It will show sailcraft operation (acceleration, navigation, station keeping, inclination change) immediately applicable to near-term missions, and show scalability of sail technologies such as the boom, membrane, deployer, reflectivity control devices for roll momentum management to enable more demanding missions, such as high inclination solar imaging.

A team led by the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center is developing the Solar Cruiser with partners Ball Aerospace and Roccor (a Redwire company). Ball is responsible for procuring a Venus class microsat commercial bus from Blue Canyon Technologies, defining all necessary mission-specific modifications, and performing the Integration and Test of the Bus with the Solar Sail System to form the completed sailcraft. Ball will also procure the IRIS radio from Space Dynamics Laboratories and develop the adapter and harnessing that interfaces to the Launch Vehicle. Roccor will integrate the Solar Sail System (SSS), including the sail membrane from their Subcontractor NeXolve, the Triangular, Rollable and Collapsible (TRACTM) Boom, the LISAs (Lightweight Integrated Solar Arrays) and momentum management Reflective Control Devices (RCDs), before providing it to Ball for Integration and Test. Roccor will also build the Active Mass Translator (AMT), which moves the Sail relative to the Bus to control momentum in the pitch/yaw directions, while the RCDs provide roll control. MSFC manages the overall mission and provide the specialized solar sail attitude determination and control system (SSADCS) algorithms and software necessary to fly the sailcraft. The SSADCS software created for this mission will autonomously operate the AMT and RCDs to provide complete momentum control of the sailcraft. Bus-mounted Electric Propulsion thrusters are included to provide auxiliary momentum management, if required.

Solar Cruiser will launch as a secondary payload with NASA’s Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP)in early 2025. The sailcraft will separate from the launch vehicle on a near-L1 trajectory (Sun-Earth Lagrangian Point 1; sunward of L1 along the Sun-Earth Line) and complete its primary mission in 11 months or less. During this time, Solar Cruiser will complete and fully characterize a large solar sail deployment (1,653 square meters/17,793 square feet), sail operation, station keeping in a sub-L1 halo orbit, inclination changes, and a roll demonstration.

This paper provides a mission and sailcraft design overview, including objectives and planned operations of the technology demonstration mission. It presents the latest findings from technology maturation efforts, major program design reviews, and initial launch integration planning.

Available for download on Saturday, August 07, 2021

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Aug 12th, 11:00 AM

Design and Overview of the Solar Cruiser Mission

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Solar Cruiser is a Small Satellite Technology Demonstration Mission (TDM) of Opportunity to mature solar sail propulsion technology to enable near-term, high-priority breakthrough science missions as defined in the Solar and Space Physics Decadal Survey. Solar Cruiser will demonstrate a “sailcraft” platform with pointing control and attitude stability comparable to traditional platforms, upon which a new class of Heliophysics missions may fly instruments. It will show sailcraft operation (acceleration, navigation, station keeping, inclination change) immediately applicable to near-term missions, and show scalability of sail technologies such as the boom, membrane, deployer, reflectivity control devices for roll momentum management to enable more demanding missions, such as high inclination solar imaging.

A team led by the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center is developing the Solar Cruiser with partners Ball Aerospace and Roccor (a Redwire company). Ball is responsible for procuring a Venus class microsat commercial bus from Blue Canyon Technologies, defining all necessary mission-specific modifications, and performing the Integration and Test of the Bus with the Solar Sail System to form the completed sailcraft. Ball will also procure the IRIS radio from Space Dynamics Laboratories and develop the adapter and harnessing that interfaces to the Launch Vehicle. Roccor will integrate the Solar Sail System (SSS), including the sail membrane from their Subcontractor NeXolve, the Triangular, Rollable and Collapsible (TRACTM) Boom, the LISAs (Lightweight Integrated Solar Arrays) and momentum management Reflective Control Devices (RCDs), before providing it to Ball for Integration and Test. Roccor will also build the Active Mass Translator (AMT), which moves the Sail relative to the Bus to control momentum in the pitch/yaw directions, while the RCDs provide roll control. MSFC manages the overall mission and provide the specialized solar sail attitude determination and control system (SSADCS) algorithms and software necessary to fly the sailcraft. The SSADCS software created for this mission will autonomously operate the AMT and RCDs to provide complete momentum control of the sailcraft. Bus-mounted Electric Propulsion thrusters are included to provide auxiliary momentum management, if required.

Solar Cruiser will launch as a secondary payload with NASA’s Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP)in early 2025. The sailcraft will separate from the launch vehicle on a near-L1 trajectory (Sun-Earth Lagrangian Point 1; sunward of L1 along the Sun-Earth Line) and complete its primary mission in 11 months or less. During this time, Solar Cruiser will complete and fully characterize a large solar sail deployment (1,653 square meters/17,793 square feet), sail operation, station keeping in a sub-L1 halo orbit, inclination changes, and a roll demonstration.

This paper provides a mission and sailcraft design overview, including objectives and planned operations of the technology demonstration mission. It presents the latest findings from technology maturation efforts, major program design reviews, and initial launch integration planning.