Impact: Impact - for External Portal › Economic and commerce, Policy and legislation
An ambitious programme of research has discovered entirely new families of orbits for solar sails, spacecraft propelled by the pressure of sunlight. The unique applications of these new orbits for space weather, Earth observation and communications are directly influencing top-level space agency thinking and have unlocked industry investments to bring the technology to flight readiness. The new families of orbits are now embedded in agency roadmaps (NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), German Space Agency (DLR)) and help underpin a $20M NASA solar sail demonstration mission. The supporting research has substantial reach due to its impact across a broad range of sectors and has international significance through industry-led technology demonstration missions.