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Solar sail microsatellite feared lost
Posted: Sun, Dec 12, 2010, 10:43 AM ET (1543 GMT)
NanoSail-D illustration (NASA) NASA officials said late Friday that it has not established contact with a small experimental solar sail satellite deployed earlier in the week, and is not even sure the satellite ejected from another spacecraft as planned. The NanoSail-D satellite was scheduled to deploy early Monday from another small satellite, FASTSAT, and deploy a solar sail three days later. However, satellite controllers have not established contact with NanoSail-D since the deployment, and project officials said in a statement Friday that they can't confirm the satellite actually was ejected from FASTSAT, despite telemetry data from the scheduled deployment that was "indicative" of a successful deployment. NanoSail-D, weighing only a few kilograms, is designed to deploy a 10-square-meter solar sail that would be used to adjust and eventually deorbit the satellite. The satellites were among several launched last month on a Minotaur 4 from Alaska.
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