Solar sails have long been considered as a viable mechanism for interplanetary travel by using light from the Sun to accelerate a spacecraft without propellant. They can be used for missions studying astrophysics, heliophysics and planetary science. A formation flying system using solar radiation pressure is presented in this paper. The proposed formation flying mission uses sails due to the limited volume and power of small spacecraft. Station keeping, pitch attitude slew and yaw attitude slew are accomplished using reflectivity control devices. A nonlinear non-affine controller that provides smooth control performance is applied for formation flying of small spinning spacecraft while considering gravity gradient torques for the attitude dynamics. The performance of the formation flying is numerically demonstrated.
Li, J. (2016). Small spacecraft formation flying using solar radiation pressure. In Astrophysics and Space Science Proceedings (Vol. 44, pp. 167–182). Kluwer Academic Publishers. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-23986-6_12