Stubborn nano-satellite finally pops out
The NanoSail-D's doors are supposed to open like blades on a ceiling fan, allowing a large polymer sail to pop out.
January 20th, 2011
02:34 PM ET

Stubborn nano-satellite finally pops out

A reluctant mini-satellite finally sprang from its mother ship this week, and NASA used amateur radio operators to help find it and check on its status.

The NanoSail-D was supposed to deploy from the Fast Affordable Scientific and Technology Satellite, or FASTSAT, on December 6, but it just sat there for more than six weeks, refusing to come out of the barn.

Mission operators at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, kept the door open, hoping the NanoSatellite about the size of a loaf of bread would eventually emerge on its own, which it finally did on Wednesday.

"We knew that the door opened and it was possible that NanoSail-D could eject on its own," Mark Boudreaux, FASTSAT project manager at the Marshall Center, said in a press release. "What a pleasant surprise this morning when our flight operations team confirmed that NanoSail-D is now a free flyer."

That event triggered a three-day countdown until four doors are supposed to open like the blades on a ceiling fan, allowing a large polymer sail to pop out.

NASA had asked ham radio operators to listen for NanoSail-D's signal at 437.270 megahertz and report their findings to the NanoSail-D dashboard.

By midday Thursday a signal had been detected, and the team in Huntsville determined the craft was operating normally, NASA reported.

NanoSail-D is expected to stay in low-Earth orbit for 70 to 120 days, depending on atmospheric conditions.

The purpose of the test mission is to show that NASA can deploy a solar sail and that it can deploy a mini-satellite without its host satellite later colliding with it.

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Filed under: Alabama • Science • Space
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. raven

    Im no genius, wouldnt even call myself overly smart woman but I do recognise that NASA has opened up our universe in ways we havent even finished studying yet . Not to mention the by -products that have benefitted us in a daily context. Some of the intentions that they came up with are now used by us earthbound people in our daily lives . As corny as it sounds ,it makes me proud to be an American and I dont begrudge them one penny .

    January 20, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. raven

    Inventions...not intentions ..

    January 20, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. getacluepeople

    Obviously some of you think this is a forum for spouting political beliefs. This has nothing to do with the current administration or any of the past administrations. This is about the dreams of scientists trying to learn how do do something new for the betterment of mankind. Yes, there will be failures, there will be successes. But, if you never try, you'll never succeed.

    January 21, 2011 at 5:44 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. COL. BAT GUANO

    The Amazing Orbiting Loaf Of Bread

    January 22, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. magazinhellokitty

    Fii la moda cu noile produse Hello Kitty . De la portofele pana la lenjerie de pat si produse de make-up.

    Comanda online de pe : http://www.magazinhellokitty.com

    September 29, 2011 at 12:40 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Rethink

    Ha ha! If only it had taken you 60 seconds less to type that out, then perhaps you would have been first! That's why if you are going to post first, all you should say is, "First!!!"

    January 20, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Going John Galt

    Troll

    January 20, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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