Tuesday, December 06, 2022

NASA Unfurls Largest Solar Cruiser Sail Quadrant Ever Deployed

NASA Unfurls Largest Solar Cruiser Sail Quadrant Ever Deployed

Solar Cruiser is a NASA mission launching in 2025 to test a large solar sail at an artificial orbit between the Earth and Sun.

Solar sails use the gentle push of sunlight for propulsion, giving them unlimited fuel to reach unique orbits and perhaps one day visit other stars.

Solar Cruiser’s sail will be the largest ever tested in space, covering an area of more than six tennis courts.

NASA and industry partners used two 100-foot lightweight composite booms to stretch out a 4,300-square-foot (400-square-meter) prototype solar sail quadrant for the first time in Building 4316 at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on Oct. 13, 2022. Solar sails use the force of light—not rocket fuel—to fly in deep space. They get a gentle, constant push from sunlight particles, or photons, hitting their giant reflective surfaces. The fully deployed sail the covers an area larger than the surface of a tennis court with an aluminum-coated plastic material that’s thinner than a human hair. The full-scale prototype is only a quarter of the sail designed to fly the Solar Cruiser spacecraft towards the Sun and demonstrate orbits that would be difficult or impossible for conventional satellites to maintain.

Credit: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

Duration: 5 minutes

Release Date: Dec. 6, 2022

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