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- In the early 2000s, NASA made substantial progress in the development of solar sail propulsion systems for use in robotic science and exploration of the solar system. Two different 20-m solar sail systems were produced and they successfully completed functional vacuum testing in NASA Glenn Research Center's (GRC's) Space Power Facility at Plum Brook Station, Ohio. The sails were designed and developed by ATK Space Systems and L Garde, respectively. The sail systems consist of a central structure with four deployable booms that support the sails. These sail designs are robust enough for deployment in a one-atmosphere, one-gravity environment and were scalable to much larger solar sails perhaps as large as 150 m on a side. Computation modeling and analytical simulations were also performed to assess the scalability of the technology to the large sizes required to implement the first generation of missions using solar sails. Life and space environmental effects testing of sail and component materials were also conducted. NASA terminated funding for solar sails and other advanced space propulsion technologies shortly after these ground demonstrations were completed. In order to capitalize on the $30M investment made in solar sail technology to that point, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) funded the NanoSail-D, a subscale solar sail system designed for possible small spacecraft applications. The NanoSail-D mission flew on board the ill-fated Falcon-1 Rocket launched August 2, 2008, and due to the failure of that rocket, never achieved orbit. The NanoSail-D flight spare will be flown in the Fall of 2010. This paper will summarize NASA's investment in solar sail technology to-date and discuss future opportunities
- Document ID: 20100039163.
Second International Symposium on Solar Sailing (ISSS 2010); 20-22 Jul. 2010; New York, NY; United States.
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