Carl A. Wiley collection on solar sails

Finding aid prepared by Julianna Gil, Student Processing Assistant.
Special Collections & University Archives
The UCR Library
P.O. Box 5900
University of California
Riverside, California 92517-5900
Phone: 951-827-3233
Fax: 951-827-4673
© 2017
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Carl A. Wiley collection on solar sails
Date (inclusive): 1951-1985
Collection Number: MS 315
Creator: Wiley, Carl A.
Extent: 0.42 linear feet (1 box)
Repository: Rivera Library. Special Collections Department.
Riverside, CA 92517-5900
Abstract: The collection contains working papers, articles, proposals, and other documents on solar sails created by Carl A. Wiley, an engineer and mathematician that authored one of the first accounts of how solar sails could be assembled in orbit and used as spacecraft propulsion devices.
Languages: The collection is in English.

Publication Rights

Copyright Unknown: Some materials in these collections may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction, and/or commercial use, of some materials may be restricted by gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing agreement(s), and/or trademark rights. Distribution or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. To the extent other restrictions apply, permission for distribution or reproduction from the applicable rights holder is also required. Responsibility for obtaining permissions, and for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Preferred Citation

[identification of item], [date if possible]. Carl A. Wiley collection on solar sails (MS 315). Special Collections & University Archives, University of California, Riverside.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Les Wiley, 2008.

Processing History

The collection was processed by Julianna Gil, Student Processing Assistant, 2017.
Processing of the Carl A. Wiley collection on solar sails was completed by undergraduate students from the University of California, Riverside as part of the Special Collections & University Archives Backlog Processing Project started in 2015. This project was funded by the UCR Library and administered by Jessica Geiser, Collections Management Librarian.

Biographical Note

Carl A. Wiley was an American mathematician and engineer born on December 30, 1918, in Princeton, New Jersey. He graduated in 1944 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Antioch College, followed by graduate coursework through the Ohio State University Extension Program. He began working at the Air Force Aircraft Radiation Laboratory at Wright Field in 1941, rising from an engineer to becoming the Section Chief of the Research Advancement Unit by 1949. From 1949-1953 he worked at Goodyear Aerophysics, where he invented the first Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). He then founded his own company, Wiley Electronics, where he worked from 1953-1963, followed by positions at North American Aviation, Rockwell International, and the Hughes Aircraft Company.
Wiley's work on solar sails began in 1950, when he wrote an article proposing the use of solar sails as a practical means of space transportation. Solar sails are a form of spacecraft propulsion using radiation pressure exerted by sunlight on large mirrors, which provide force akin to wind on a sailboat, and can be used to change the course of a vehicle in space drifting without fuel. Wiley published his article, "Clipper Ships of Space," under the pseudonym Russell Saunders in Astounding Science Fiction in 1951, although his article was a scientific article rather than non-fiction.
Wiley holds around 25 patents and applications in the fields of radar, antennas, radiometers, and solid-state devices. He was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 1979, and became a Life Fellow in 1984. He passed away in 1985, and was survived by his wife Jean and two sons.

Collection Scope and Contents

The collection contains working papers, articles, proposals, and other documents on solar sails created and compiled by Carl A. Wiley. Items in the collection include a copy of Astounding Fiction with Wiley's story "Clipper Ships of Space" (written under a pseudonym Russell Saunders), which was one of the first accounts of how solar sails could be assembled in orbit and used for space.

Collection Arrangement

The collection is arranged chronologically.

Separated Materials

Books donated with the collection have been separated for cataloging in Special Collections, searchable by title online as "Carl A. Wiley collection on solar sails."

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


Navigation (Astronautics)
Solar sails

Genres and Forms of Materials


Box 1, Folder 1

Astounding Science Fiction with "Clipper Ships of Space" 1951

Box 1, Folder 2

Wiley Electronics - "A Proposal for the Design and Construction of a Line Source Feed for the Cornell Spherical Antenna of 1,000' Aperture" 1960

Box 1, Folder 3

Solar Sailing Volume I 1980

Box 1, Folder 4

Solar Sailing Volume II circa 1980

Box 1, Folder 5

Packet on Carl A. Wiley 1985

Box 1, Folder 6

Working Paper - "The Standing Tide-Wave Fundamental Particles" 1985