NASA prepares to launch the solar sail of the future into space

NASA has entered into an agreement with NanoAvionics to develop the banner of the future solar sail. It is being developed as part of the Advanced Composite Solar Sail System (ACS3) project to test a new experimental technology. If it is recognized as successful, NASA will begin building a sailing system for interplanetary travel.

NASA provides an apparatus (of the CubeSat type) for launching the system into space, as well as mechanisms for pulling out the sail, rods made of composite materials and a winch. NanoAvionics has to make the sail out of thin plastic, apply an aluminum coating on it and assemble the entire system. The maximum sail area will be 75 square meters, and when folded it will weigh only 5 kg.

For NASA, ACS3 is an experiment, an attempt to test the strengths and weaknesses of the concept. No payload is assigned to the mission itself, the task of ACS3 is to successfully deploy and maneuver in orbit according to commands from the Earth. Then, if the verdict is positive, they will build a sail with an area of ​​more than 500 square meters, which will be used for work in the near space zone. NASA has not yet announced the timing of both operations.

By the way, noting the importance of the mission, NASA even developed a commemorative patch for it.