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  • Space Project Management Lessons Learned: A Powerful Tool for Success

    Paper number



    Mr. Serge Garon, Canadian Space Agency, Canada




    Space-environment effects on metallic thin films solar sails as well as hollow-body sails with hydrogen fill gas [1] unfurled at a 0.05-AU perihelion from initially parabolic solar orbits are considered based on the approach developed in Refs.2 and 3. The interaction of the solar radiation with the solar sail materials and the hydrogen fill gas is presented. This analysis evaluates worst-case solar radiation effects during solar-radiation-pressure acceleration. Physical processes of the interaction of photons, electrons and protons with sail material atoms and nuclei, and hydrogen molecules are analyzed. Calculations utilized conservative assumptions with the highest values for the available cross sections for interactions of solar photons, electrons and protons with atoms, nuclei and hydrogen molecules. It is shown that for high-energy photons, electrons and protons the beryllium sail is mostly transparent. Sail material will be partially ionized by solar UV. About 20% of the incident low-energy solar electrons will also ionize sail material. For a balloon-like photon sail we considered two spacecraft configurations. In the worst-case about 25% and 0.3% of all penetrating solar radiation ionizes the hydrogen fill gas for two different spacecraft configurations. We consider effects including hydrogen diffusion through the beryllium sail walls, recombination of UV-ionized sail material ions, application of the two sail configurations as electric sails, electrostatic pressure, and sail erosion by impinging solar-wind protons. Although a positive charge due to ionization by solar UV always exists on the sail, its utility as an electric sail is doubtful. Electrostatic pressure caused by the electrically charged sail’s electric field may require mitigation since sail material tensile strength decreases with elevated temperature. Erosion is not a major problem during the short duration perihelion pass. Our approach can be applied to a wide variety of materials, missions, and sail configurations utilizing metallic thin films and/or inflatable structures in the near-Sun space environment.

    1. G. L. Matloff, "The Beryllium Hollow-Body Solar Sail and Interstellar Travel," JBIS, 59, 349-354 (2006). 2. R. Ya. Kezerashvili and G. L. Matloff, “Solar Radiation and the Beryllium Hollow-Body Sail: 1. The Ionization and Disintegration Effects,” JBIS, 60, 169-179 (2007). 3. R. Ya. Kezerashvili and G. L. Matloff, “Solar Radiation and the Beryllium Hollow-Body Sail: 2. Diffusion, Recombination and Erosion Processes,” JBIS, 61, 47-57 (2008).

    Abstract document


    Manuscript document

    IAC-04-IAA. (🔒 authorized access only).

    To get the manuscript, please contact IAF Secretariat.