Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Kathleen C Howell

Committee Member 1

Henry J Melosh

Committee Member 2

James M Longuski

Committee Member 3

Dengfeng Sun


In the trajectory design process, gravitational interaction between the bodies of interest plays a key role in developing the over-arching force model. However, non-gravitational forces, such as solar radiation pressure (SRP), can significantly influence the motion of a spacecraft. Incorporating SRP within the dynamical model can assist in estimating the trajectory of a spacecraft with greater precision, in particular, for a spacecraft with a large area-to-mass ratio, i.e., solar sails. Subsequently, in the trajectory design process, solar radiation pressure can be leveraged to maneuver the sail-based spacecraft. First, to construct low energy transfers, the invariant manifolds are explored that form an important tool in the computation and design of complex trajectories. The focus is the investigation of trajectory design options, incorporating solar sail dynamics, from the Earth parking orbit to the vicinity of triangular Lagrange points. Thereafter, an optimization scheme assisted in investigating the ΔV requirement to depart from the Earth parking orbit. Harnessing the solar radiation pressure, the spacecraft is delivered to the vicinity of the displaced Lagrange point and maintains a trajectory close to the artificial libration point with the help of the solar sail. However, these trajectories are converged in a model formulated as a three-body problem with additional acceleration from solar radiation pressure. Thus, the trajectories are transitioned to higher fidelity ephemeris model to account for additional perturbing accelerations that may dominate the sail-craft dynamics and improve upon the trajectory design process.