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The science fiction dream becomes more real after testing

The science fiction dream becomes more real after testing

Sailing to the Planets in the Wind: What sounds like a science fiction novel has now become a little closer. NASA completed an important test in which the solar sail had to stabilize itself. The next step: the first space missions.


NASA believes that solar sails are a promising technology that can open the depths of space. Research has been ongoing for decades, and as the US space agency reports, an important milestone has now been reached in developing the necessary technologies.

The idea: The solar sails must be raised and inserted into orbit in order to deploy there. NASA developed a corresponding mechanism in collaboration with Redwire and NeXolve. The entire sail rests on four quarters, and will have an area of ​​more than 1,650 square meters when fully unfolded. The film, made of an aluminized plastic material, is 2.5 microns thick – less than the thickness of a human hair.
NASA, Redwire, and NeXolve: Solar sail testingThis is how the sailing mechanism can be used (NASA)

Like NASA and its partners a reportOne of the four sail quadrants was successfully deployed on two 30-meter booms at the Redwire facility on January 30. “This was an important last step on Earth before it was proposed for space missions,” said NASA engineer Les Johnson, who has been researching this technology for nearly 30 decades.

Now you can start

What does this mean for NASA missions? “We achieved our goal and showed that we are ready to fly,” the expert said confidently. In the next step, it is now up to scientists to propose using solar sails in their missions.
NASA, Redwire, and NeXolve: Solar sail testingSuccessfully uploaded: NASA solar sail

Johnson himself is already looking into the distant future of the technology and paints an exciting picture: “In the future, we could put large lasers in space that direct their beams toward the sails as they leave the solar system and accelerate to higher speeds than ever before.” This will make it possible to reach other stars within “ A reasonable period of time.”


  • NASA successfully tests solar sail technology
  • The sun sails unfold over 1,650 square metres
  • Aluminum plastic film, thinner than hair
  • The quadrant sail has been successfully opened
  • The technology is ready to fly
  • The first step towards space missions with solar sails
  • The future: Lasers accelerate sails outside the solar system

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