NASA Advanced Composite Solar Sail
Paving the way for sunlight to power future deep space exploration
Rocket Lab has been selected to launch NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System, or ACS3, on the Electron launch vehicle.
NASA’s ACS3 technology demonstration uses composite materials - or a combination of materials with different properties, in its novel, lightweight booms that deploy from a CubeSat to support a solar sail. Just as a sailboat is powered by wind in a sail, solar sails employ the pressure of sunlight for propulsion, eliminating the need for conventional rocket propellant. Data obtained from the ACS3 demonstration will guide the design of future larger-scale composite solar sail systems that could be used for space weather early warning satellites, near-Earth asteroid reconnaissance missions, or communications relays for crewed exploration missions.
ACS3 will launch from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 no earlier than 2023.