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NASA's innovative and revolutionary sail that will make us fly into space using only the sun's energy

NASA's innovative and revolutionary sail that will make us fly into space using only the sun's energy

NASA launches a revolutionary spacecraft equipped with the “Next Generation Boom Solar Sail,” a solar sail that promises to reduce costs, expand space exploration, and open new horizons for colonizing the Moon and Mars with innovative materials.

The future of space exploration is about to take a turn thanks to revolutionary innovation from… NASA. The spacecraft, instead of propelling itself with conventional rocket engines, will travel silently through space using a solar sail. This technique is called “The next generation solar sail boom“, is inspired by marine sails and allows spacecraft to navigate in space by changing the inclination of their triangular sails. Using solar pressure for propulsion, the device represents a promising cost reduction and expansion of our capabilities to explore the universe, with potential future applications on the Moon and Mars.

The spacecraft will be launched by a rocket Electron D-Rocket Laboratory It will move in space using solar pressure. Its reflective sails, which capture solar energy, will allow the spacecraft to move without the need for conventional propulsion. This will reduce operating costs and enhance the feasibility of long-duration missions. The flight phase will include tests on arms made of carbon fiber and flexible polymers, demonstrating the effectiveness of lightweight, rigid and flexible materials. Once deployed, the magnificent solar sail can be seen from Earth, becoming a symbol of advanced space engineering.

Solar sails, which harness the sun's energy, can provide constant propulsion and support missions that require unique vantage points, such as those needed to understand the sun and its impact on Earth. These missions could host early warning systems to monitor solar climate, which is essential to prevent damage from solar storms and coronal mass ejections.

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Launching the solar sail

Composite rods could find applications beyond solar navigation, as support structures for habitats on the Moon and Mars, or as compact antenna masts for communications stations. Rudy Aquilinaproject manager for the Solar Sail Mission at NASA Ames, reflects on the wide range of possible applications:

This technology sparks the imagination, reinventing the entire concept of astronautics and using solar sails and lightweight composite spars as the next step to inspire future missions.

After reaching sun-synchronous orbit, the spacecraft will deploy its polymer sail in just 25 minutes, covering an area of ​​80 square metres. The camera-equipped spacecraft will provide important data on each stage of deployment, allowing scientists to analyze the shape and symmetry of the sail.

This technology will not only aid solar and weather monitoring missions, but will also be crucial for exploring Mars and other distant targets, supporting solar sails up to 2,000 square meters in size. NASA engineers are excited not only about the navigation capabilities, but also about the prospects this technology could offer in building communications and living infrastructure on the Moon and Mars.

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source: NASA

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