NASA has selected Rocket Lab to send a miniature satellite into space for the agency’s project to test deployable composite materials and a method to power spacecraft using sunlight.
The company said Wednesday it will deploy a 12-unit CubeSat with the Advanced Composite Solar Sail System as part of the Electron launch vehicle’s rideshare mission scheduled for mid-2022.
For the ACS3 demonstration, NASA is looking to collect and use data on system performance to inform potential design work on larger solar sails for various applications such as space weather warning satellites, communications systems for crewed deep space missions and asteroid reconnaissance operations.
RocketLab noted that its Electron rocket will include a “kick stage” with 3D-printed engine technology for the tech demo deployment effort.
Illinois-based small satellite bus maker NanoAvionics will produce the 12U CubeSat to carry the booms and solar sail system designed by NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia.