The problem of deorbiting small satellites using either a low-thrust engine or a solar sail is studied. In the propulsion case, the widely used techniques of passive stabilizationŚpassive magnetic stabilization and spin stabilizationŚare considered. At most two oppositely directed thrusters along the stabilized axis can be installed onboard due to necessity of thrust vector control. The thrust direction is hence fixed at any moment of time; one can control the thrust magnitude only. As concerns the solar sail case, a novel method of deorbiting a satellite in orbits higher 700 km is proposed. It is based on exploiting the sail-augmented solar radiation pressure force. The keystone is the attitude motion of a sailcraft which is easy to keep and at the same time leads to the secular increase in semimajor axis. Apart from dynamical part of the problem, the parametric one has also been solved. The analytic expressions are derived to design a square sail with required dynamical characteristics. The sail and low-thrust propulsion systems are compared in the sense of efficiency in performing the deorbit operation.
deorbiting, small satellite, solar sail, low-earth orbit, solar radiation pressure