Bernd Dachwald, Wolfgang Seboldt, Lutz Richter
Multiple Rendezvous and Sample Return Missions to Near-Earth Objects Using Solar Sailcraft
Proceedings of 5th IAA Conference on Low-Cost Planetary Missions, 2003, ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, ESA SP-542, pp. 351-358


Solar sailcraft are due to their high ΔV-capability especially capable to perform multiple rendezvous and sample return missions to near-Earth objects. Even with moderate-performance solar sails of the first generation, challenging scientific missions are feasible at relatively low cost. Within this paper, it is shown that a 300kg-spacecraft (including a lander and a sample return capsule), propelled by a (70m)2 solar sail with an additional mass of about 110kg (specific weight 23g/m2), is capable to return a sample from a near-Earth asteroid to Earth within 10 years from launch. In another scenario, a solar sail of the same size and weight is able to propel a 75kg-spacecraft to rendezvous three near-Earth asteroids subsequently within 7.6 years from launch (with about 200 days of operations at each asteroid). A larger solar sail of about (140m)2 would even be capable to transport a spacecraft that returns samples from the three near-Earth asteroids to Earth within about 10 years from launch.