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Ultra-large Solar Sail Technology

Award Information

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2003 / STTR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
CU Aerospace LLC
301 North Neil Street Suite 400 Champaign, IL 61820-3169
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2003
Title: Ultra-large Solar Sail Technology
Agency: NASA
Contract: NAS8-03039
Award Amount: $99,904.00


UltraSail is a complete sail system for the launch, deployment, stabilization and control of very large (km^2 size) solar sails enabling reduced mission times 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 of 1 gm/m^2, and thrust levels 20 times those of ion thrusters used for comparable deep space missions. UltraSail can conceivably even achieve outer planetary rendezvous, a deep space capability now reserved for high-mass nuclear and chemical systems. The primary innovation is the near-elimination of sail supporting structures by attaching the sail tip to a number of formation-flying microsatellites which deploy the sail, and then articulate the sail to provide attitude control, including spin stabilization and precession of the spin axis. These tip microsatellites are controlled by a laser metrology system and maneuvered by a 3-axis microthruster system using solar-power to maintain low, constant velocity and proper sail film tension during deployment with negligible propellant mass.

Principal Investigator:

Victoria Carroll /

Business Contact:

David Carroll
Small Business Information at Submission:

CU Aerospace LLC
2004 S. Wright St. Extended Urbana, IL 61802

EIN/Tax ID: 371373803
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Research Institution Information:
University of Illinois, U-C
306 Talbot Lab/104 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801
Contact: Paul Bohn
Contact Phone: (217) 333-2187
RI Type: Nonprofit college or university