2021-11-25

Guangfan 2 has been flying for 30 months, paving the way for future solar sail missions

By yqqlm yqqlm

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guangfan 2 spacecraft relies on sunlight to provide power, demonstrating the Solar Sail Technology in earth orbit. The mission is providing hard data for future missions that want to explore the universe with solar sails. Guangfan 2, a small cube satellite, was launched on the SpaceX Falcon heavy rocket in June 2019 as a demonstration mission to test how the solar sail can change the orbit of the spacecraft. One month after launch, when lightsail 2 launched its 32 square meter ultra-thin Mylar sail, the mission was declared successful because the sail raised the orbit of the bread size spacecraft

Guangfan 2 has been flying for 30 months, paving the way for future solar sail missions

without rocket fuel, it can reach a higher orbital height only by the promotion of sunlight. It has no form of propulsion in space except photons. The planetary society shares mission data with NASA to assist in the three upcoming solar sail missions, NEA scout, solar cruiser and ACS3. NEA scout plans to take NASA’s space launch system rocket into lunar space as early as February 2022 during Artemis I test flight. The mission will use its solar sail to leave near the moon and visit an asteroid

Guangfan 2 has been flying for 30 months, paving the way for future solar sail missions(1)

the solar sail uses the power of photons from the sun to drive the spacecraft. Although photons have no mass, they can still transfer a small amount of momentum. Therefore, when the photon hits the solar sail, the spacecraft is pushed far away from the sun. Over time, if a spacecraft is not bound by any atmosphere in space, it may accelerate to an incredibly high speed

a spacecraft with a solar sail does not need to carry fuel, so it can theoretically travel longer because it does not need to replenish fuel. But guangfan 2 is in orbit around the earth. When the spacecraft waves its sails into the sun, it raises its orbit by up to several hundred meters a day. But the small spacecraft could not tilt its sails accurately to prevent lowering its orbit on the other side of the earth. Eventually, guangfan 2 will burn deep into the earth’s atmosphere