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I-Sail: 2500-Square-Meter Solar Sail Prototype Demonstrator, Phase I

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Project Introduction

A team of CU Aerospace and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign proposes the Phase I design and development of a 25 kg spacecraft for initial flight test of a 2,500 m^2 UltraSail demonstrator, called I-Sail. This technology represents a next-generation high-risk, high-payoff solar sail system for the launch, deployment, stabilization and control of very large (km^2 class) solar sails, enabling very high payload mass fractions for interplanetary and deep space spacecraft. UltraSail is an innovative, non-traditional approach to propulsion technology achieved by combining propulsion and control systems developed for formation-flying microsatellites with an innovative solar sail architecture to achieve controllable sail areas approaching 1 km^2, sail subsystem area densities less than 5 g/m^2, and thrust levels many times those of ion thrusters used for comparable deep space missions. Phase I effort will focus on the design of this next generation I-Sail demonstrator, a two-order of magnitude scale up from the prior subscale 20 m^2 CubeSail hardware, along with potential mission selection with requirements. I-Sail represents the next stage of risk reduction for the UltraSail technology prior to full scale deep space development in the next decade. More »

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