An electric sail is a new propulsion system uses the solar wind dynamic pressure as a thrust force. We analyzed the probability of the orbital control not changing sail plane angle but switching an electron gun connected with tethers. First, locally optimal switching laws are derived from Lagrange variational equations analytically. By theoretical calculations and numerical simulations, these switching laws are effective for changing some orbital elements. Moreover, mission applicability is studied. Assuming minimum time transfer problem between circular and coplanar orbits, optimal control laws are studied with direct approach. We conclude that the switching orbital control method is effective for exploration of other planets.
2013 The Japan Society for Aeronautical and Space Sciences