Are Solar Sails Set to Become Reality?

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jul 6, 2008 in Science |

Solar Sail: NanoSail-D Ready to Launch

Unlike rockets solar sails work by tapping into the power of the sun. The first person to propose a solar sail was Johannes Kepler in the seventeenth century, although it wasn’t until 1984 when an article by engineer and science fiction author Robert L. Forward stirred serious interest in the subject. In 2001 and 2005 the Planetary Society made two attempts as testing the concept, but the mission was scuttled due to malfunctioning rockets.

But solar sails may be set to become reality shortly as NASA is getting ready to test the concept again with an ultra-thin, 100-square-foot sail called the NanoSail-D. The sail was developed in less than six months and features xtremely lightweight gossamer fabric designed to glide into space. The NanoSail-D is set to sail into orbit on July 29th and you can follow the progress with this mission dashboard and get updates via Twitter too:


Here’s a behind the scenes video of NanoSail-D from NASA:

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