Spinning solar sail orbit steering via spin rate control

Yuya Mimasu, Tomohiro Yamaguchi, Michihiro Matsumoto, Masaki Nakamiya, Ryu Funase, Jun'Ichiro Kawaguchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The orbit of a solar sail can be controlled by changing the attitude of the spacecraft. In this study, we consider the spinning solar power sail IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun), which is managed by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The IKAROS attitude, i.e.; the direction of its spin-axis, is nominally controlled by the rhumb-line control method. By utilizing the solar radiation torque, however, we are able to change the direction of the spin-axis by only controlling its spin rate. With this spin rate control, we can also control indirectly the solar sail's trajectory. The main objective of this study is to construct the orbit control strategy of the solar sail via the spin-rate control method. We evaluate this strategy in terms of its propellant consumption compared to the rhumb-line control method. Finally, we present the actual flight attitude data of IKAROS and the change of its trajectory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1810-1821
Number of pages12
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Attitude drift motion
  • Orbit control
  • Spin control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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