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Small Spacecraft Technology

Propellantless attitude control of solar sail technology utilizing reflective control devices

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Propellantless attitude control of solar sail technology utilizing reflective control devices
Solar sails offer an opportunity for propellant-free space travel, enabling long-term and long-distance missions not capable with traditional methods. However, attitude control is still performed using traditional methods involving reaction wheels and propellant ejection, which severally limits mission lifetime. To solve this problem, we propose propellantless attitude control using a polymer-dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC) film, which is electrically switchable between transparent and diffusely reflective upon application of a voltage. This technology removes the need for propellant, reducing weight and cost while improving performance and lifetime. More »

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