The Flying Carpet: Aerodynamic High-Altitude Solar Reflector Design Study

Paper #:
  • 2017-01-2026

Published:
  • 2017-09-19
Abstract:
Our concept studies have indicated that a set of reflectors floated at high altitudes and supported by aerodynamic lift, can reduce radiant forcing into the atmosphere. The cost of reducing the radiant forcing sufficiently to reverse the current rate of global warming, is well within the financial abilities of the world. This paper describes one of the concepts for such reflectors. The basic element of a reflector array is a rigidized reflector sheet towed behind and above a solar-powered, distributed electric-propelled fixed flying wing aircraft. The altitude rises above 30,480 meters (100,000 feet) in the daytime and does not sink below 28,288 meters (60,000 feet or Flight Level FL60) at night. While the reflector sheet easily supports its own weight with very small lift coefficient, the skin friction and induced drag components are large. The latter is minimized by joining several elements together in flight to create a large aspect ratio, and by staggering elements in flight as long-distance birds do. Both options are investigated. The primary parameter for this solution is the aereal density that can be achieved for the reflector sheet without risking tearing due to aerodynamic loads. Successful designs can be closed even with 2-mil Mylar sheets, but going to strengthened versions of solar sails would offer strong advantages. The cost of the architecture is roughly bounded by comparing the mass placed at altitude with the equivalent number of launch masses of a well-known large space launch system.
Access
Now
SAE MOBILUS Subscriber? You may already have access.
Buy
Attention: This item is not yet published. Pre-Order to be notified, via email, when it becomes available.
Select
Price
List
Download
$27.00
Mail
$27.00
Members save up to 40% off list price.
Share
HTML for Linking to Page
Page URL

Related Items

Technical Paper / Journal Article
2013-09-17
Book
2003-12-17
Standard
1991-05-23
Article
2016-12-08
Technical Paper / Journal Article
2013-09-17