SCT Solar Sail Module

The SOLAR SAIL MODULE is an add-on product for the Spacecraft Control Toolbox, Professional Edition. PSS has been developing sail analysis software since 2004 for both NASA’sSail trajectory to inside Venus orbit with inclination out of the ecliptic plan. In-Space Propulsion program and the SBIR program. Our high-fidelity disturbance model enables users to simulate complex sail shapes without resorting to analytical approximations. You can study the nonlinear effects of different sail material properties and propellantless actuation schemes. The combination of these special sail CAD and dynamics models with control design tools from the core toolbox provide a complete sail attitude and orbit control analysis solution!



  • Propellantless attitude control with vanes, moving mass, and rotating boom
  • Simulations of integrated guidance and attitude control
  • Sail disturbance function with combined optical and thermal force model for thin membranes
  • Design examples such as Cosmos-1, striped square sail, billowed circular sail
  • Mission examples such as Solar Polar Imager, heliopause probe, and geocentric kite
  • Deployment dynamics with time-varying inertia
  • Locally optimal guidance laws for geocentric and heliocentric orbits
  • Numerical trajectory optimization using simplex, genetic algorithms, and simulated annealing

The Solar Sail Module has examples of several common sail configurations, including square, circular, and bladed designs. There is a function producing a striped quadrant and capability for modeling billow as a function of planar location. The disturbance model uses the geometry of the sail mesh to compute each force and torque so your model can be as simple or complex as you like.

Sail control mechanisms such as sliding masses and a gimballed boom can be modeled in detail. A boom can be modeled with two-body dynamics and gimbal rotation constraints. Vanes can easily be handled as additional membranes.

McInnes’ locally optimal control laws are modeled for geocentric and heliocentric orbits. Orbits can be propagated using a single or multi-body gravity model. An example of a patched trajectory from the two locally optimal laws for semi-major axis and inclination is given representing the Solar Polar Imager mission. Another interesting trajectory and control example is following an invariant manifold to a displaced planetary orbit.


For more information or a quote, please fill out our contact form, selecting “Spacecraft Control Toolbox”, and write your question on the Solar Sail Module in the comments section!