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Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 2, 85-95, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
19 Feb 2013
Electric solar wind sail mass budget model
P. Janhunen1, A. A. Quarta2, and G. Mengali2 1Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
2Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
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.

Citation: Janhunen, P., Quarta, A. A., and Mengali, G.: Electric solar wind sail mass budget model, Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 2, 85-95,, 2013.
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