NASA’s Advanced Solar Sail Concept Requires NO Onboard Fuel
Advanced Solar Sail Concept ( TeK-THinK)
HELIOS is an advanced solar sail concept being evaluated by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). HELIOS will demonstrate a type of high performance solar sail called a heliogyro. The “sail” of the heliogyro consists of very long reflective membrane strips, or blades.
Blades are rolled onto reels to simplify packaging and deployment. Sunlight reflecting on the blades creates thrust. No on-board fuel is required.
Future HELIOS solar sail missions include:
- Solar weather early warning
- Imaging the poles of the Sun
- Travel beyond the Solar System
The HELIOS module steers like a helicopter. Tilting each blade redirects the reflected sunlight and solar pressure which can be used to change thrust, orientation relative to the Sun or spin rate.
Cameras will capture the motion of the blades, sending proof of deployment to Earth, recording video to compare with computer models and communicating blade motion to the blade control system