1Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
2Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Received: 24 May 2012 – Discussion started: 10 Jul 2012
Abstract. The electric solar wind sail (E-sail) is a new type of propellantless propulsion system for Solar System transportation, which uses the natural solar wind to produce spacecraft propulsion. The E-sail consists of thin centrifugally stretched tethers that are kept charged by an onboard electron gun and, as such, experience Coulomb drag through the high-speed solar wind plasma stream. This paper discusses a mass breakdown and a performance model for an E-sail spacecraft that hosts a mission-specific payload of prescribed mass. In particular, the model is able to estimate the total spacecraft mass and its propulsive acceleration as a function of various design parameters such as the number of tethers and their length. A number of subsystem masses are calculated assuming existing or near-term E-sail technology. In light of the obtained performance estimates, an E-sail represents a promising propulsion system for a variety of transportation needs in the Solar System.
Revised: 12 Nov 2012 – Accepted: 28 Jan 2013 – Published: 19 Feb 2013
Janhunen, P., Quarta, A. A., and Mengali, G.: Electric solar wind sail mass budget model, Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 2, 85-95, doi:10.5194/gi-2-85-2013, 2013.