Energy supply for spacecraftrequires unconventional approaches that provide high efficiency equipment with a small mass. NASA and NanoAvionics have launched the Advanced Composite Solar Sail System (ACS3). The main task at the first stage of the project is to prove the viability and energy efficiency of the new technology. With a positive test result, NASA can use the solar sail for long space missions.
The basis of the solar sail is the usesmall satellites such as CubeSat, developed by NASA and providing sail delivery to space. The satellite provides a system for unfolding a sail using a winch and a truss made of composite material.
NanoAvionics, for its part, is responsiblefor the development of a panel of a solar sail made of ultra-thin plastic coated with aluminum. With an area of 75 square meters, the sail will have a mass of not more than 5 kg.
Advanced Composite Solar Sail System Projectallow NASA to test the viability of solar sail technology, to identify the advantages and disadvantages of the technology. Utility functions are not assigned to the first test samples, the main task will be to verify the possibility of folding the panel in space and the possibility of maneuvering.
A successful test result of the first solarsails will open the way for the continuation of the project and the next stage will create a 500-square-meter sail, which will already be tested with real work related to the supply of energy to near-Earth satellites or stations. No specific dates for testing and launching the solar sail have been announced, but NASA has already issued a commemorative patch with the logo of the solar sail.