How solar sail technology works: Using the pressure of the sun’s rays to fuel space exploration

Solar sails will allow future unmanned missions to be longer and cheaper


Solar sail technology, also known as solar sailing, is a revolutionary way of propelling a spacecraft through space.

The spacecraft is outfitted with large reflective sails that capture the momentum of light from the Sun and use that momentum to push the spacecraft forward. The process uses an existing almost limitless energy supply from the sun. How does it work?

Solar sails will allow future unmanned missions to be longer and cheaper while reaching the outer solar system—and possibly beyond.

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