China Daily reports that Shenyang Institute of Automation (SIA) has tested a small solar sail in Earth orbit:
Liu Jinguo, deputy director of the SIA Space Automation Technology Research Office, led the team in the design, technical verification and environmental tests of the solar sail.
Liu said that they managed to fold the flexible membrane and put it into the deployment machine, which is smaller than a billiard ball.
After the satellite platform is put into orbit, scientists carry out technical verification through two-stage deployment. At the first stage, the solar sail body is pushed out of the satellite platform and turned 90 degrees. The second stage is to erect masts and gradually spread the sail. The unfolded solar sail is about 0.6 square meters, which is equivalent to the size of eight Macbook airs laptop computers.