Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…

NASA Cancels Troubled Sunjammer Solar Sail Project

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
October 18, 2014
Filed under , , ,
Sunjammer solar sail

Sunjammer solar sail

Space News reports that NASA has canceled the Sunjammer solar sail mission:

Citing a lack of confidence in its contractor’s ability to deliver, NASA has abandoned plans to fly a solar-sail mission in 2015 after investing four years and more than $21 million on the project.

The Sunjammer mission, including the spacecraft and a deployable 1,200-square-meter solar sail, was being developed by L’Garde Inc. of Tustin, California, under a contract awarded in September 2011. The contract is slated to expire this coming December, and NASA has no plans to continue the work, according to an internal memo circulated at NASA headquarters here the week of Oct. 7.

“NASA is working with L’Garde to de-scope the existing contract to close out the documentation and deliver completed work to the Agency by the end of 2014,” the memo reads….

Nathan Barnes, president of L’Garde, said in an Oct. 17 phone interview that the company’s final delivery to NASA will be a design for a spacecraft module and solar sail that in theory could propel a small spacecraft by harnessing the energy of photon strikes. L’Garde will turn over its design in a Critical Design Audit scheduled for Nov. 7, he said.

Read the full story.

2 responses to “NASA Cancels Troubled Sunjammer Solar Sail Project”

  1. therealdmt says:

    Very disappointing. Solar sailing is a zero propellant technology – zero.

    This is a technology we need to test, develop and build flight heritage with so that we can have it in our tool chest. Solar sailing and a possible follow on development, light sailing (power the sail with a laser(s) that “stay home”, in addition to [or in replacement of] light from the sun), hold truly vast potential.

    Hopefully NASA can salvage something from this screwup, continue the project in some form and get something flying in the not-too-distant future.

    • Robert Clark says:

      Yes, I agree. Precursor missions such as this are so important to accomplishing fast missions to the planets both manned and unmanned that NASA should open up competition to complete those parts of this mission the contractor has been unable to demonstrate reliably.

      Bob Clark

Leave a Reply