Sunday, February 17, 2013

World`s largest Solar Sail is a go for launch next year

Solar sails represent a novel for of space travel. Not only is an onboard fuel supply not entirely necessary (some designs have added thrusters for station keeping and maneuvering) but these space craft can attain some pretty decent velocities given enough time that is. 2014 will see an interesting NASA mission take flight.

Cleantechnica reports:

“Dubbed Sunjammer, the giant solar sail measures about 124 feet on a side and boasts a total surface area of nearly 13,000 square feet,” writes. “The project is under the wing of NASA’s Space Technology Program, within the agency’s Office of the Chief Technologist.”
"The Sunjammer was built by L’Garde Inc. of Tustin, California, after being contracted by NASA to build the spacecraft. They have worked previously with NASA on several projects. The name ‘Sunjammer’ apparently comes from a fictional story about a ‘yacht race’ in space done using solar sails, written by the author Arthur C. Clarke."

"Interestingly, the Sunjammer will be launched by SpaceX (the rocket and spacecraft company started by Elon Musk of Tesla Motors and Paypal), on top of one of its Falcon 9 rockets. The solar sail technology itself seems as though it will be very attractive to many private space companies, potentially allowing for the cheap harvesting of resources from asteroids."

very interesting propulsion technology, would be a boon for deep space probes and long duration unmanned missions.

more here

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