First Solar Sail Might Soon Fly
NASA has backup NanoSail-D hardware in storage on Earth and a Planetary Society working group could make a decision by the end of summer on how best to integrate that design with its goals. Any future design may also come significantly cheaper than the roughly $4 million price tag on Cosmos-1.
“If we can reduce it by half, we’d be pretty happy,” Friedman told SPACE.com. However, he added that the size reduction would not come with performance reduction, and expects acceleration “at least as good and maybe better” compared to Cosmos-1.
That equal or better speed boost becomes possible because acceleration is proportional to area divided by mass, and so a smaller spacecraft mass can make do with a smaller sail. Another mini-sail suggestion for the Planetary Society comes from Russian researchers at the Space Research Institute in Moscow, who also collaborated on Cosmos-1.
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