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Surrey-built space sail successfully deployed on commercial mission

07 June 2019

A pair of space sails designed and manufactured by the University of Surrey team behind RemoveDEBRIS have been successfully deployed.

Surrey-built space sail successfully deployed on commercial mission (Credit: University of Surrey)

The Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey provided the mission with two de-orbiting sail systems, which are fitted to a set of “free flyer” deployment stacks. The sails are each 16m2 metalised thin films, supported by carbon fibre booms. The development, build and test of the sails took just six months from order to delivery.

The design and production of the sails build on the Surrey Space Centre’s successful InflateSail mission. The tech was also part of last year's RemoveDEBRIS mission, which ultimately saw its sail demonstration not deploy correctly.

Dr. Ben Taylor, Systems Engineer at the Surrey Space Centre, said: “After many months of waiting for good observing conditions, we are delighted to see observations confirming that the sails we have provided to Spaceflight are working as planned. In fact, the sails are regularly bright enough to be visible to the naked eye. We believe that Surrey Space Centre has now successfully deployed the most instances of this debris removal technology and we now have a strong history of demonstrating the success of this self-contained sail system.”

Professor Guglielmo Aglietti, Director of the Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey, said: “I want to congratulate our sail team for once again showing that we have the premier minds in this technology working here at the University of Surrey. While we were disappointed that the sail on the otherwise highly successful RemoveDEBRIS did not deploy as expected, we learned from that experience and built a more robust system for this commercial mission.”

Jeff Roberts, Mission Director at Spaceflight, said: “The de-orbit sails provided by Dr. Taylor’s team at the Surrey Space Centre helped us responsibly de-orbit our spacecraft deployers after completing the record-setting SSO-A mission.

“Spaceflight is committed to being a responsible steward of the space environment and Surrey Space Centre is a key partner in helping us put our words into action.”


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