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NASA testing solar sails

Marc Perton
NASA solar sail 240px

NASA is testing a solar sail developed by California-based ATK Space Systems. The sail, made from a synthetic fabric 100 times thinner than a piece of paper, is a prototype of a version that NASA hopes can be used to catch photons and power spacecraft within a few years. The space agency has already spent $30 million on space-sail development. NASA isn't the only agency planning to use solar winds; Japan's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science launched a rocket that deployed a solar sail in August 2004.

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