WASHINGTON (NASA HQ PR) — As NASA’s exploration continues to push boundaries, a new solar sail concept selected by the agency for development toward a demonstration mission could carry science to new destinations.
Mission contract is NanoAvionics second solar sail mission following NASA ACS3
VILNIUS, Lithuania, 24 May 2022 (NanoAvionics PR) – Gama, a French space startup, has contracted mission integrator NanoAvionics for a demonstration of Gama’s solar sails propulsion system in low Earth orbit (LEO). Under the mission agreement, NanoAvionics will provide its 6U nanosatellite bus, payload integration services, a satellite testing campaign, launch services and satellite operations. The launch of the “Alpha” nanosatellite is scheduled for the second half of this year.
Gama’s range of solar sails are aimed at commercial companies and research organisations looking for a cost-effective and less complex setup and propulsion system to explore deep space through small satellites. Using nano- or microsatellites propelled through space by solar sails would allow them to travel greater distances without requiring large amount of stored fuel. They can also be launched with smaller and cheaper rockets, making shuttle trips between planets less expensive and more practical than conventional chemical rockets.
COLUMBIA, Ill. (NanoAvionics PR) — NanoAvionics has been selected to build a 12U nanosatellite bus for an in-orbit demonstration of NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System (ACS3). This a result of a contract between NASA Ames Research Center and AST for a 12U bus to carry NASA’s payload into low Earth orbit (LEO) including an approximately 800 square foot (74 square meter) composite boom and solar sail system.
The aim of the ACS3 mission is to replace conventional rocket propellants by developing and testing solar sails using sunlight beams to thrust the nanosatellite. These solar sail propulsion systems are designed for future small interplanetary spacecrafts destined for low-cost deep-space and science missions requiring long-duration, low-thrust propulsion.
PARIS (Gama PR) — Gama, a French aerospace company, has raised 2 million euros [USD $2.2 million] with the French Public Investment Bank (BPI), the French Space Agency (CNES) and leading international angel investors to deploy a solar sail in space and revolutionize space transportation.
A solar sail allows a spacecraft to be powered solely by sunlight. This new propulsion technology enables speeds never reached before to explore our Solar System and beyond.
This first round of funding will finance a demonstration mission: the deployment of a solar sail from a satellite launched by SpaceX. Other missions will follow.
Rocket Lab among companies selected to provide launch services for the agency’s Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare (VADR) missions, providing new opportunities for science and technology payloads and fostering a growing U.S. commercial launch market.
Long Beach, California. January 27, 2022 (Rockety Lab PR) – Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (“Rocket Lab” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: RKLB), a leading launch provider and space systems company, has today announced that it has been selected by NASA as one of twelve companies to provide launch services for the agency’s Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare (VADR) missions, providing new opportunities for science and technology payloads and fostering a growing U.S. commercial launch market. VADR is a five-year program with a maximum total budget of $300 million in launch contracts.
NEA Scout will visit an asteroid estimated to be smaller than a school bus – the smallest asteroid ever to be studied by a spacecraft.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Launching with the Artemis I uncrewed test flight, NASA’s shoebox-size Near-Earth Asteroid Scout will chase down what will become the smallest asteroid ever to be visited by a spacecraft. It will get there by unfurling a solar sail to harness solar radiation for propulsion, making this the agency’s first deep space mission of its kind.
The target is 2020 GE, a near-Earth asteroid (NEA) that is less than 60 feet (18 meters) in size. Asteroids smaller than 330 feet (100 meters) across have never been explored up close before. The spacecraft will use its science camera to get a closer look, measuring the object’s size, shape, rotation, and surface properties while looking for any dust and debris that might surround 2020 GE.
LAFAYETTE, Colo., November 15, 2021 (Blue Canyon Technologies PR) –Small satellite manufacturer and mission services provider Blue Canyon Technologies LLC (“BCT” or “Blue Canyon”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies Corporation (NYSE: RTX), was selected by Ball Aerospace to develop a standardized X-SAT Venus ESPA-class microsatellite bus and several custom components to enable an upcoming one-of-a-kind mission with NASA for the Solar Cruiser project.
As the largest planned solar sail to date, the 18,000 square-foot sail is a third the size of a football field. The Solar Cruiser: “Sailing on Sunlight” mission is being led by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center out of Huntsville, Alabama. Ball Aerospace will perform several mission-critical functions, including the integration and test of the satellite bus with the solar sail system that will form the completed “Sailcraft.”
The Electron rocket will deploy an innovative satellite designed to test new deployable structures and materials technologies for solar sail propulsion systems, paving the way for sunlight to power future deep space exploration
LONG BEACH, Calif., October 6, 2021 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a global leader in launch services and space systems, today announced it has been selected to launch NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System, or ACS3, on the Electron launch vehicle.
New concepts could expand human exploration of the deepest parts of the solar system faster than ever before.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — Space exploration remains a herculean effort due to the immense challenges imposed by time and distance. While missions to near-Earth objects have been successfully accomplished using traditional means of propulsion, the outermost planets in our solar system are 2 to 3.7 billion miles from the Sun. Reaching them within any reasonable time frame requires propulsion systems that exceed the capabilities of conventional propulsion methods.
NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts 2021 Phase II Award Amount: $500,000
Artur Davoyan University of California, Los Angeles
As of date, deep space exploration has been hindered by the limitations of existing propulsion technologies. In contrast, solar sails appear to allow a low cost pathway to high speed and ubiquitous exploration of the outer solar system and interstellar space. By performing a slingshot maneuver in the vicinity of the sun, just ~2-5 solar radii distant from the sun, solar sails can propel light-weight CubeSat class spacecraft to near-relativistic speeds, >0.1% of the speed of light (>300 km/s or >60AU/year characteristic velocities). Such a technology would markedly transform space exploration, enabling fast missions to distant worlds, effectively turning our sun into a launch pad.
In a joint project with NASA, DLR successfully tested masts for deployable satellite structures in the aircraft hangar in Braunschweig.
The long-term goal of the cooperation is to test the developed expandable structures in space.
The first results will be presented at the 16th ECSSMET from March 23-25, 2021.
BRAUNSCHWEIG, Germany (DLR PR) — It took a large hangar to unfold the four ultra-lightweight booms, each made of carbon fibre-reinforced composites and 13.5 metres long, arranged in a cross shape. Researchers from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) tested the booms twice in the aircraft hangar at the DLR site in Braunschweig. In cooperation with the US space agency NASA, the aim is to develop deployable satellite structures that will make low-cost, small satellites more powerful in the future with deployable, miniaturised structures for power supply, communications and propulsion.
NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I Award Funding: up to $125,000 Study Period: 9 months
Atomic Planar Power for Lightweight Exploration (APPLE) E. Joseph Nemanick The Aerospace Corporation Santa Monica, Calif.
The Atomic Planar Power for Lightweight Exploration (APPLE) is an enabling architecture for deep solar system missions on low mass, fast transit space platforms. We explore an alternative vehicle architecture that integrates a long-lived, peak power capable, rechargeable, and modular power system with solar sail propulsion, and examine the new missions this architecture enables.