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Nanosail-D: The Small Satellite That Could!Three years from its initial design review, NanoSail-D successfully deployed its sail on January 20th, 2011. It became the first solar sail vehicle to orbit the earth and the second sail ever unfurled in space. The NanoSail-D mission had two main objectives: eject a nanosatellite from a microsatellite; deploy its sail from a highly compacted volume and low mass system to validate large structure deployment and potential de-orbit technologies. These objectives were successfully achieved and the de-orbit analysis is in process. This paper presents an overview of the NanoSail-D project and insights into how potential setbacks were overcome. Many lessons have been learned during these past three years and are discussed in light of the phenomenal success and interest that this small satellite has generated. NanoSail-D was jointly designed and built by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and NASA's Ames Research Center. ManTech/NeXolve Corporation also provided key sail design support. The NanoSail-D experiment is managed by Marshall and jointly sponsored by the Army Space and Missile Defense Command, the Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation and Dynetics Inc. Ground operations support was provided by Santa Clara University, with radio beacon packets received from amateur operators around the world.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Marshall Space Flight Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Alhorn, Dean C.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Casas, Joseph P.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Agasid, Elwood F.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Adams, Charles L.
(Gray Research, Inc. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Laue, Greg
(Nexolve, Inc. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Kitts, Christopher
(Santa Clara Univ. CA, United States)
O'Brien, Sue
(Alabama Univ. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
August 8, 2011
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: 25th Annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites
Location: Logan, UT
Country: United States
Start Date: August 8, 2011
End Date: August 11, 2011
Sponsors: American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Utah State Univ.
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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