the other sunsail

Long the stuff of science fiction (including solar-sail equipped yacht racing stories), star-powered propulsion is now a thing IRL too.  From Phys.org:

NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, a small satellite the size of a shoebox, designed to study asteroids close to Earth, performed a full-scale solar sail deployment test at ManTech NeXolve’s facility in Huntsville, Alabama, Sept. 13. The test was performed in an indoor clean room to ensure the deployment mechanism’s functionality after recent environmental testing.

 NEA Scout is a six-unit CubeSat that relies on an innovative solar sail for propulsion. It is one of 13 secondary science payloads NASA selected to fly on the initial launch of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket. When deployed, the sail is square in shape with each side about the length of a school bus, and harnesses solar energy to use as propulsion to move through space. Instead of wind, solar sails reflect sunlight for thrust, minimizing the need for fuel. This method results in cost savings due to the reduced weight and size of the payload with reduced fuel and provides the satellite with the ability to travel through space. The NEA Scout solar sail will deploy from the spacecraft using four arms—called booms—to hold the sail, much like a sail on a ship.

The anarchists even found The Science Guy blabbing about the new tech…comments?
Photo credit NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given.