The experience of building the NEA Scout solar Sail resulted in the realization that new manufacturing technology would be required to build solar sails significantly larger than NEA Scout. During Phase I, NeXolve successfully developed and demonstrated fab and fold processes and scalable-modular pathfinder mechanisms that can be fully developed to support fabrication and packaging of larger solar sails, drag sails, power sails, or other deployable thin film structures. To meet the technical objective of developing
scalable processes and mechanisms, NeXolve intentionally limited the fabrication footprint and made it smaller than the deployed sail footprint.The processes and mechanisms were developed and verified through fabrication, packaging and deployment testing of a sub-scale pathfinder solar sail. NeXolve conducted extensive design trade studies for the “four-quadrant” sail architecture while collaborating with NASA and industry partners to define and assess proposed and planned large NASA Solar Sail missions that will be enabled by the new manufacturing technology.
In this Phase I activity our efforts were focused on developing technology to build larger solar sails faster with less cost and more reliability. NASA has many applications that will significantly benefit from the improved manufacturing technology developed in this program. Large Arrays are currently used for many applications in space including; Solar Sails, Deorbit Devices, Sunshields, Solar Arrays, Antennas, and many other applications that require light weight, large surface area and efficient folding and packaging.
NeXolve currently provides deployable thin film technologies to commercial companies. These commercial customers have expressed interest in our manufacturing technology to support their activities involving large array projects they are pursing including drag sails for commercial de-orbit systems, large aperture RF applications, and remote sensing.