ACS3 (Advanced Composite Solar Sail System)

Spacecraft ACS3 (Advanced Composite Solar Sail System)
Type CubeSat
Units or mass 12U
Status not launched, expected in 2024
Launcher Electron
Organisation NASA Ames Research Center
Institution Space agency
Entity Government (Civil / Military)
Headquarters US
Manufacturer AIVT by NanoAvionics
Launch brokerer Rocket Lab

Characterize solar sail structures technologies for future small spacecraft deep space missions.


An approximately 800 square foot (74 square meter) composite boom and solar sail system.  

The aim of the ACS3 mission is to replace conventional rocket propellants by developing and testing solar sails using sunlight beams to thrust the nanosatellite.

These solar sail propulsion systems are designed for future small interplanetary spacecrafts destined for low-cost deep-space and science missions requiring long-duration, low-thrust propulsion.  
The deployable composite boom and solar sail technologies demonstrated will guide the development of a larger mission-capable CubeSat-class solar sail propulsion system to be demonstrated in the 2025 timeframe.

As part of this agreement the company will also supply a mechanical testbed model and a FlatSat model. In addition, a team of NanoAvionics engineers will provide the support required for testing, integration and operations of the nanosatellite.  

The FlatSat model has identical software functionality as the final 12U bus hardware, hosting the actual payload. It allows NASA Ames to run tests via remote network connectivity without having to ship equipment back and forth. The mechanical testbed model can be used for testing payload integration and other mechanical tests, such as the deployment of solar sails.  

Sources [1] [2] [3]
Photo sources [1] [2] [3]
COTS subsystems
  • PLATFORM - NanoAvionics
Keywords Solar sail

Last modified: 2023-12-18

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