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Page added on June 29, 2008

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NASA to Attempt Historic Solar Sail Deployment

NASA researchers, thinking “out of the box” (or maybe “out of the rocket”) have long dreamed of the possibility of sailing among the planets with sails propelled by sunlight instead of by wind. Except in works of fiction, though, no one has yet successfully deployed such a sail anywhere beyond Earth.


“There’s a first time for everything,” says Edward “Sandy” Montgomery of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
Montgomery’s team and a team from Ames Research Center (led by Elwood Agasid) hope to make history this summer by deploying a solar sail called NanoSail-D. It will travel to space onboard a SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket, scheduled for launch from Omelek Island in the Pacific Ocean during a window extending from July 29th to August 6th (a back-up extends from August 29th to September 5th).
“NanoSail-D will be the first fully deployed solar sail in space, and the first spacecraft to use solar pressure as a primary means of attitude control or orbital maneuvering,” says Montgomery, who is NanoSail-D’s payload manager.


Physorg



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