Bernd Dachwald, Wolfgang Seboldt, Lutz Richter
Multiple Rendezvous and Sample Return Missions to Near-Earth Objects Using Solar Sailcraft
Acta Astronautica, Vol. 59, No. 8-11, 2006, pp. 768-776


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 will be shown that a 300 kg-spacecraft (including a lander and a sample return capsule), propelled by a (70 m)2 solar sail with an additional mass of about 110 kg (specific weight 23 g/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 75 kg-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 (140 m)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.