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Solar Sail

Space

NASA begins testing electronic sail technology for deep space probes

It took Voyager 1 over 30 years to reach interstellar space, but scientists at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, are testing a new technology that could cut that time by two thirds. The Heliopause Electrostatic Rapid Transit System (HERTS) or E-sail concept is a novel form of propellant-less propulsion that relies on a series of wires to catch the solar winds. The technology promises to reduce the travel time from Earth to the heliopause – about 123 AU (18 billion km, 11 billion mi) from the Sun – to under 10 years.Read More

Space

LightSail mission reaches fiery end

The Planetary Society's brief yet successful LightSail mission came to a fiery end on Sunday. The non-profit Society announced today that after 25 days in orbit, the CubeSat designed to test a solar sail propulsion system burned up after reentering the Earth’s atmosphere somewhere over the South Atlantic.Read More

Space

LightSail successfully deploys solar sail

The Planetary Society today confirmed that its LightSail satellite successfully deployed its Mylar solar sail, achieving the main objective of the mission after 19 days in low-Earth orbit. The CubeSat, which is about the size of a loaf of bread, completed transmission of its first image to a ground station at Poly San Luis Obispo in California, showing the sail open and partly spread out.Read More

Space

Planetary Society's LightSail to make first test flight in May

Though we tend to think of private spaceflight as being in the SpaceX league, it also includes many smaller-scale efforts. For example, the non-profit Planetary Society has announced that its LightSail spacecraft will make its first test flight in May. The solar-propelled CubeSat will lift off as a piggyback cargo atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Read More

Space

ESA develops "snap-proof" space tether

This month, the University of Helsinki and the European Space Agency (ESA) will test a new space tether that has less chance of snapping under the stresses of operating in orbit. Installed aboard Estonia’s ESTCube-1 cubesat, the new tether is scheduled to be launched with ESA’s Proba-V satellite atop a Vega rocket as part of an experiment in developing an electric solar sail.Read More

Space

NASA to fly largest solar sail ever, in 2014

NASA is getting ready to ride the “winds” of space on sails lighter than gossamer, yet large enough to cover a small field. The space agency’s Solar Sail Demonstration, also known as the Sunjammer Project, may launch as early as 2014 when it will send the largest solar sail yet built into orbit, to demonstrate the technical viability of the device.Read More

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