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Sunjammer Completes Successful Deployment Test

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
October 2, 2013
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Sunjammer deployment test.

Sunjammer deployment test.

Tustin, CA (Sunjammer Mission PR) — NASA officials, team partners, and local students were on hand to witness a key milestone for the Sunjammer Mission as it successfully deployed a quadrant of its solar sail – a critical design component that will eventually herald an era of propellantless spacecraft. Sunjammer will be the largest solar sail ever flown using photonic pressure (or sunlight) to maneuver in space.

Solar Sails have the potential to be a game changer for space exploration as the low-cost, propellantless and highly maneuverable sail craft will enable future satellites and spacecraft to journey throughout the solar system and beyond.

The prime contractor, L’Garde Inc., hosted the test deployment at its facility in Tustin, CA, with mission partners NASA and Space Services Inc. present for the event.

The test is a critical milestone for the Sunjammer Mission as lead contractor L’Garde, Inc. demonstrated for the first time the successful coupling and deployment of the sail and deploying beam. The beam pulled a quarter of the sail out to its full open state as it will operate in space.

The demonstration was conducted under more stressful conditions since the Earth’s gravity and atmosphere make it more difficult to test given the lightweight sail material.

“If this test succeeded under these stressing conditions, we certainly anticipate it will work exceedingly well in space” said Nathan Barnes, President of L’Garde.

Sunjammer solar sail deployment.

Sunjammer solar sail deployment.

We are very pleased by these results, as they bring us one step closer to realizing NASA’s vision of a propellantless spacecraft and introduce the exciting potential of solar sails to the world,” said public outreach partner Space Services CEO, Charles Chafer.

Sunjammer is slated to launch in January 2015 and is NASA’s first solar sail voyage to deep space. It will monitor key solar activity as well as carry a public “Cosmic Archive” of human perspectives including names, messages, photographs, and videos contributed by the public for future generations to discover.

About Space Services, Inc.

Space Services Holdings is the exclusive commercial infusion partner for Sunjammer solar sail mission, providing opportunities for mission sponsorship; developing and operating the mission website; and conducting – in partnership with NASA and selected partners – an extensive education and public outreach campaign for the mission.

For more than 30 years Houston, Texas-based Space Services Holdings, Inc. and its heritage company Space Services Inc. of America have been recognized as the true pioneers of the commercial space industry. In 1982, Space Services – under the direction of legendary Mercury astronaut Donald K. “Deke” Slayton – conducted the first privately funded launch into space, establishing the business, legal, and regulatory framework for today’s commercial industry.

In 1997, SSHI’s subsidiary Celestis, Inc. conducted the first ever Memorial Spaceflight, launching a symbolic portion of the cremated remains of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, 60s icon Timothy Leary, and 22 others from around the globe into Earth orbit.

Since then Celestis has conducted 10 additional Memorial Spaceflight missions, and placing more than 1000 flight capsules – including Mercury astronaut L. Gordon Cooper, and Star Trek actor James Doohan – into outer space. In 1999 NASA asked Celestis to assist them in honoring Dr. Eugene Shoemaker by making him the first person “buried” on the moon on the Lunar Prospector mission.

Today, SSHI is developing commercial space weather technologies and systems to deliver timely, accurate forecasts and warnings for solar storms. Through a series of contracts funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its own resources, SSHI has created, and is executing, a focused business plan to meet global space weather data and information needs.

For more information see:

About L’Garde, Inc.

L’Garde aims to be a world leader in the development of inflatable and deployable structures for terrestrial and space applications. L’Garde is focused on providing agile and responsive research and development services to its customers.

L’Garde was founded in 1971 in Orange County, CA to support ballistic missile defense through the development and manufacture of inflatable targets and decoy systems. Since that time L’Garde has developed a wealth of knowledge about deployable space systems that include targets and countermeasures, deployable space antennas, in-space propulsion, deployable space structures, and deployable terrestrial systems. L’Garde has placed more than 150 objects in space.

L’Garde’s capabilities embrace deployable antennas, space propulsion, space structures, and missile defense targets and countermeasures.

With the Sunjammer Solar Sail Technology Demonstration Mission (TDM), L’Garde will advance the state of the art of solar sailing. The end goal of this mission is the deployment, flight, and navigation of a mission capable solar sail to demonstrably prove the efficacy of solar sails. This proposed mission will definitively advance the technology of solar sailing for use by future mission planners.

For more information see:

One response to “Sunjammer Completes Successful Deployment Test”

  1. therealdmt says:

    I’m looking forward to this one. I’ve been reading about solar sails since I was a kid! It’ll be great to see them start to become reality.

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