The Theory of Fast Solar Sailing

  • Giovanni Vulpetti
Part of the Space Technology Library book series (SPTL, volume 30)


To combine solar gravity and solar radiation pressure efficiently. This chapter is devoted to study the way a sailcraft can achieve so high a cruise speed that the related mission types may allow the exploration of the heliosphere and well beyond in a time interval shorter than the mean human job time, including the design phase. Four main sections and various subsections are devoted to such an aim. Some concepts discussed in Chap.  5 are extended; they use a different view of sailcraft trajectory: the orbital angular momentum reversal via solar radiation pressure. In Chap.  6, how solar irradiance can result in thrust has been detailed. May one utilize both thrust and solar gravity in order to notably increase sailcraft speed, hopefully well higher than the speed obtainable by spiraling about the Sun? The theory of fast sailing is explained for two-dimensional as well as three-dimensional trajectories. The second set is not a mere extension of the first one. Theory relies on some meaningful theorems and propositions. Many numerical cases are discussed with full particulars.


Orbital Angular Momentum Motion Reversal Solar Sailing Lightness Vector Attitude Maneuver 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    Borisenko, A. I., Tarapov, I. E. (1979), Vector and Tensor Analysis with Applications. New York: Dover. Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Gray, A., Abbena, E., Salamon, S. (2006), Modern Differential Geometry of Curves and Surfaces with MathematicaTM (3rd edn.). London: Chapman and Hall/CRC. ISBN 1584884487. zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ince, E. L. (1926), Ordinary Differential Equations. New York: Dover. ISBN 0-486-60349-0. Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Kühnel, W. (2006), Student Mathematical Library: Vol. 16. Differential Geometry: Curves-Surfaces-Manifolds (2nd edn.). Providence: American Mathematical Society. ISBN 0-8218-3988-8. Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    McInnes, C. R. (2004), Solar Sailing: Technology, Dynamics and Mission Applications (2nd edn.). Berlin: Springer-Praxis, ISBN 3540210628, ISBN 978-3540210627. Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Matloff, G. L., Vulpetti, G., Bangs, C., Haggerty, R. (2002), The Interstellar Probe (ISP): Pre-Perihelion Trajectories and Application of Holography. NASA/CR-2002-211730. Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Matloff, G. L. (2005), Deep-Space Probes (2nd edn.). Chichester: Springer-Praxis, ISBN 3-540-24772-6. Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Mewaldt, R. A., Kangas, J., Kerridge, S. J., Neugebauer, M. (1995), A small interstellar probe to the heliospheric boundary and interstellar space. Acta Astronautica, 35, supplement. Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Vulpetti, G. (1992), Missions to the heliopause and beyond by staged propulsion spacecraft. In IAF Congress-43 in The 1st World Space Congress, Washington, DC, 28 August–5 September 1992, paper IAA-92-0240. Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Vulpetti, G. (1996), 3D high-speed escape heliocentric trajectories by all-metallic-sail low-mass sailcraft. Acta Astronautica, 39, 161–170. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Vulpetti, G. (1996), The AURORA project: light design of a technology demonstration mission. In 1st IAA International Symposium on Realistic Near-Term Advanced Scientific Space Missions, Turin, Italy, 25–27 June 1996. Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Vulpetti, G. (1997), Sailcraft at high speed by orbital angular momentum reversal. Acta Astronautica, 40(10), 733–758. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Vulpetti, G. (1998), A sailing mode in space: 3D fast trajectories by orbital angular-momentum reversal. In NASA-JPL Ninth Advanced Space Propulsion Research Workshop and Conference, Pasadena, 11–13 March 1998. Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Vulpetti, G. (1999), General 3D H-reversal trajectories for high-speed sailcraft. Academy Transactions Note, AA, 44(1), 67–73. Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Vulpetti, G. (2006), The sailcraft splitting concept. In Fourth IAA International Symposium on Realistic Near-Term Advanced Scientific Space Missions, Aosta, Italy, 4–6 July 2005, also published on Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, 59(2), 48–53, 2006. Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Vulpetti, G., Johnson, L., Matloff, G. L. (2008), Solar Sails, a Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel. New York: Springer/Copernicus Books/Praxis. ISBN 978-0-387-34404-1, doi: 10.1007/978-0-387-68500-7. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giovanni Vulpetti
    • 1
  1. 1.International Academy of Astronautics—Paris, FranceRomeItaly

Personalised recommendations