Future drag-free missions for space-based experiments in gravitational physics require a Gravitational Reference Sensor with extremely demanding sensing and disturbance reduction requirements. A configuration with two cubical sensors is the current baseline for the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) and has reached a high level of maturity. Nevertheless, several promising concepts have been proposed with potential applications beyond LISA and are currently investigated at HEPL, Stanford, and EADS Astrium, Germany. The general motivation is to exploit the possibility of achieving improved disturbance reduction, and ultimately understand how low acceleration noise can be pushed with a realistic design for future mission. In this paper, we discuss disturbance reduction requirements for LISA and beyond, describe four different payload concepts, compare expected strain sensitivities in the “low-frequency” region of the frequency spectrum, dominated by acceleration noise, and ultimately discuss advantages and disadvantages of each of those concepts in achieving disturbance reduction for space-based detectors beyond LISA.

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