The NASA funded Sunjammer Project will fly the largest solar sail ever deployed in space, a 1200 sq. meter sail built by L’Garde. Scheduled for launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2014, the Sunjammer spacecraft will aim for a location 300M kilometers from earth. The goals of the project include:
1. Demonstrate segmented deployment of a solar sail with ~4X the area of that vacuum tested at Plum Brook, “cookie cut” from the center of a much larger sail.
2. Demonstrate attitude control plus passive stability and trim using beam-tip vanes.
3. Execute a navigation sequence with mission-capable accuracy.
4. Fly to and Maintain Position at L1 and pole sitter positions
Taking advantage of the sunlight force on the sail, such spacecraft should be able to achieve stable orbital locations relative to earth that would provide excellent places to detect solar storms and send warnings back home. Sunjammer will carry two solar wind measurement instruments built by groups in the UK: