NASA To launch World’s Largest Solar Sail in 2014

The Sunjammer project, slated to launch in 2014, will demonstrate “propellantless propulsion” offered by solar sails.
CREDIT: L’Garde 

The largest solar sail ever constructed is headed for the launch pad in 2014 on a mission to demonstrate the value of “propellantless propulsion”— the act of using photons from the sun to push a craft through space.

Dubbed Sunjammer, the giant solar sail measures about 124 feet (38 meters) on a side and boasts a total surface area of nearly 13,000 square feet (1,208 square m, or one-third of an acre). The project is under the wing of NASA’s Space Technology Program, within the agency’s Office of the Chief Technologist.

NASA has contracted with a team of high-tech “solar sailors” at L’Garde Inc. of Tustin, Calif., to build Sunjammer.

L’Garde is no newcomer to novel space structures. The company has worked with the space agency on several projects, including the creation of inflatable structures for radio frequency antennas and solar arrays. In 1996, the company flew the Inflatable Antenna Experiment (IAE) aboard the space shuttleEndeavour’s STS-77 mission.

Work on Sunjammer this year includes a programmatic milestone — a critical design review — along with a variety of ground demonstration tests and qualification of components, Barnes said. The flight of the solar sail, he said, is set for the end of 2014, to be sent spaceward atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

"With this sail, we’re targeting our end goal somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,864,114 miles (3 million kilometers) distance from the Earth," Barnes said.

"We took the name Sunjammer from an Arthur C. Clarke short story, a fictional yacht race in the heavens using solar sails,” said Nathan Barnes, L’Garde’s chief operating officer and executive vice president, as well as Sunjammer’s project manager. Permission to use the name came from the Clarke estate,


  1. doctorgiggles reblogged this from electricspacekoolaid
  2. undeadoctopus reblogged this from abluegirl
  3. astro-stoner reblogged this from electricspacekoolaid
  4. thewizardofweird reblogged this from abluegirl
  5. littlemonkeyblack reblogged this from abluegirl
  6. abluegirl reblogged this from electricspacekoolaid
  7. topazwoods reblogged this from andromeda1023
  8. andromeda1023 reblogged this from electricspacekoolaid
  9. hardtobeoriginal reblogged this from idrinks8nsblood
  10. idrinks8nsblood reblogged this from kingofspacetime
  11. kingofspacetime reblogged this from electricspacekoolaid
  12. ifanboyonocassion reblogged this from electricspacekoolaid
  13. dancingmantis reblogged this from electricspacekoolaid
  14. alexjonesvevo reblogged this from theuniverseatlarge
  15. theuniverseatlarge reblogged this from electricspacekoolaid
  16. cosmocow reblogged this from electricspacekoolaid
  17. forever-i-will-glow reblogged this from electricspacekoolaid
  18. feathernotdot reblogged this from itsbeenawhile-staind
  19. itsbeenawhile-staind reblogged this from electricspacekoolaid
  20. electricspacekoolaid posted this