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NanoSail-D Update

A phone call from NASA’s Kim Newton at Marshall Space Flight Center confirms what some of us were beginning to fear, that the ejection sequence that would separate NanoSail-D from FASTSAT, at first thought successful, has apparently malfunctioned. Although telemetry from FASTSAT looked good and seemed to confirm the ejection, the NanoSail-D team has no beacon from the sail, and while attempts to locate it will continue throughout the weekend, the outlook has suddenly turned grim.


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  • Adam December 10, 2010, 18:52

    What is it with NASA and solar-sails?

  • Michael Spencer December 11, 2010, 8:05

    While distressing, this is the normal sequence of events in developing new space technology. Learn from it and build the next one.

  • ljk December 12, 2010, 10:40

    This keeps happening to solar sail missions because they are not getting the major support that they should, the Japanese mission being a recent exception.

    The Planetary Society learned their lesson from Cosmos 1 so that not only will their next one be sent on an actual space rocket but they are even planning a backup which I am sure can be utilized no matter what happens to Cosmos 2. But solar sail missions deserve much better attention from the major space powers.

  • Istvan December 13, 2010, 12:15

    Well, drat. I rather believe the team is vastly more disappointed than I am, but I’m still pretty disappointed.

  • ljk January 19, 2011, 21:10

    It’s Alive! NanoSail-D Suddenly and Spontaneously Comes Back to Life

    by Nancy Atkinson on January 19, 2011

    A small solar sail that was thought to be a lost cause has “spontaneously” come back to life. The NanoSail-D — a NASA-designed solar sail cubesat that launched in December but suddenly went silent without confirmation of its deployment — unexpectedly ejected from its host satellite on Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 11:30 a.m. EST.

    Engineers at Marshall Space Flight Center confirmed that the NanoSail-D nanosatellite ejected from Fast Affordable Scientific and Technology Satellite, FASTSAT, when they looked at onboard FASTSAT telemetry. The ejection of NanoSail-D also has been confirmed by ground-based satellite tracking.

    Now NASA is asking for help from ham radio operators to listen for the signal to verify NanoSail-D is operating. And knowing the status of the solar sail is time critical.