Solar sail test to be utilized by the Near-Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout).
Credit: NASA/Emmett Given

A solar sail to be used in NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid Scout has been deployed in a ground test facility.

The test was performed in an indoor clean room at the NeXolve facility in Huntsville, Alabama.

The Near-Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout) is a small satellite designed to study asteroids close to Earth. The successful deployment test took place on June 28.

Six-unit cubesat

NEA Scout is a six-unit CubeSat that relies on a solar sail for propulsion. It is one of 13 secondary science payloads NASA selected to fly on NASA’s Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1).

EM-1 will be the first integrated test of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, NASA’s Orion spacecraft and the newly upgraded Exploration Ground Systems at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Deep space destination

In addition to testing these integrated systems, EM-1 will also provide the opportunity for these small experiments to reach deep space destinations, conducting science missions and testing key technologies beyond low-Earth orbit.

NEA Scout will deploy from the rocket after the Orion spacecraft is separated from the upper stage. When deployed, the sail, which is square in shape, with each side about the length of a school bus, will harness the light of the sun to use as propulsion to move through space.

One Response to “Solar Sail Deployment Test”

  • In my view Johndale Solem’s Medusa concept is the only sail on the great ocean that will work without a space solar power infrastructure to power some kind of beamed energy scheme.

    It does use a tiny momentary sun-like fusion reaction so it is in some sense a solar sail. Until those alloy plates for nuclear pulse propulsion can be in some way sent up in slices and welded together or manufactured on the Moon, I seriously doubt humans are going anywhere Beyond Earth and Lunar Orbit (BELO). Nuclear Pulse is quite simply the only practical space propulsion system capable of sending humans (and a kiloton+ range cosmic ray water shield) to the outer planets.

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