NeXolve's solar sails to launch on Artemis 1

The company's solar sail propulsion is helping investigate possible destinations in space, extending human deep space exploration.


With the help of NeXolve's solar sails and deployable metallic booms, a miniaturized spacecraft is bringing humanity one step closer to deep space exploration beyond the Earth's moon. Known as the Near Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout), the spacecraft will launch with Artemis 1, ready to carry out its maiden voyage to explore near-Earth asteroids as potential destinations for humans.

This small craft, known as a CubeSat, was developed under NASA'S Advanced Exploration Systems Program at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

CubeSats show immense promise for space-based science and exploration, engineering support and relay communications, and Earth observation. Their compact build, about the size of a shoebox, allows them to quickly be propelled by NeXolve's solar sail, which measures 925ft2 (86 m2).

“Solar Sails offer a propellant-less in-space propulsion option that is very efficient and enabling as a delivery mechanism for inter-planetary and interstellar science mission payloads,” said Jim Moore, NeXolve President and CEO. “Through significant collaboration with NASA MSFC, NeXolve has developed and demonstrated the capability to design solar sails, produce solar sail material, and then fabricate, package, and test large solar sails using their unique mechanisms and processes.”

Designed and developed by NeXolve, the 86m2 monolithic solar sail is made from CP1 film with a reflective coating. Stainless steel alloy booms, another NeXolve product, deploy these mirror-like sails that then use reflected particles of light radiating from the sun to generate thrust.

“Solar Sails harness and reflect the Sun’s energy to produce a low but continuous acceleration in space. Over the long term, the continuous acceleration results in high velocity that enables deep space science missions. Solar sail missions can also be coupled with innovative sun swing-by trajectories to benefit from even more free energy,” said Jim Pearson, aerospace products director.

Huntsville, Alabama-based NeXolve Holding Co. LLC provides high-performance materials and hardware to commercial and government customers worldwide. Since its founding, the company has worked closely with NASA, DoD, and commercial companies to manufacture and design aerospace products and high-performance polymer materials for electronics, display, and aerospace applications.

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