Available Technology

Combination solar sail and electrodynamic tether propulsion system

A propulsion system for a spacecraft includes a solar sail system and an electrodynamic tether system. The solar sail system is used to generate propulsion to propel the spacecraft through space using solar photons and the electrodynamic tether system is used to generate propulsion to steer the spacecraft into orbit and to perform orbital maneuvers around a planet using the planet's magnetic field. The electrodynamic tether system can also be used to generate power for the spacecraft using the planet's magnetic field.
Inventors: 

Charles L. Johnson, Gregory L. Matloff

Patent Number: 
US6565044
Patent Issue Date: 
June 20, 2003
Agency
NASA
Region
Southeast
State: 
Alabama
Lab Representatives
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