Deployable Alaska Research Sail

The Deployable Alaska Research Sail (DARS) aims to demonstrate successful deployment of a large scale solar sail zero gravity. Solar sails operate under the influence of radiation pressure distribution across a sail to provide a change in velocity. Using radiation pressure from the sun, solar sails are theoretically capable of infinite delta-V and can be used on a variety of missions. The DARS team seeks to mature solar sail technology to enable more complex and elaborate CubeSat missions.

Development started in late 2015; various deployment concepts and sail shapes were analyzed to determine the optimal system. The spacecraft will be composed of three main sections, the board stack module, sail compartment housing, and boom deployment mechanism. The spacecraft currently aims to deploy a 40-square meter solar using four deployable booms.

Orbit Trajectory

A custom orbital trajectory analysis was developed in MATLAB to determine Earth escape time from various insertion altitudes. The scripts considers solar radiation pressure distribution across the sail at various angles normal to the sail surface. Drag at 700 km was considered negligible and was not accounted for. It was concluded that deploying a solar sail at an altitude of 700 km the spacecraft could escape Earth within 2 to 4 years depending on various insertion parameters.