Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


Dr. Kira Abercromby


The renewed academic interest in using solar sails as a source of spacecraft propulsion has been accompanied by a recent fervor of investigations into non-ideal and off-nominal sail performance considerations. One of the most influential considerations, uncertain optical degradation, has been shown to present significant trajectory design difficulties. This paper investigates the potential of using a mid-course degradation model update to mitigate the risk of missing the target destination in a sample 300 day Earth-Venus trajectory. Using a range of potential degradation profiles, it is shown that correcting in the first half of the mission is highly likely to result in a trajectory that arrives sufficiently close to Venus at the end of the mission timeframe. Depending on the exact extent of the uncertainty, the data suggests that the latest a correction should take place ranges from 150 to 240 days into the mission. The influence of two different parameters, the extent and rate of degradation, are compared to show that the former of the two is more impactful on correcting timing than the latter. (19140 kB)
A compressed folder contain all MATLAB code written for this thesis. The main file of the algorithm is named master_master.m, others are all called by this function either directly or indirectly. The file pretty_func_vis.m calls the data saved by master_master and makes the several visualizations used in the body of the thesis. The rest are created using plot commands which are commented out when not in use.

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Astrodynamics Commons