After piggybacking on another satellite into orbit, the small cubesat is set to unfurl its sail in three days time.
Nanosail-D is NASA's first attempt at deploying a solar sail in space.
The small "cubesat" will unfurl its 100 sq. ft. sails in three days time, using spring-loaded booms.
Nanosail-D will test atmospheric breaking systems for satellites as well as the potential for using solar sails during interstellar journeys.
Despite being an idea rattling around inside the head of engineers and space enthusiasts for over 40 years, solar sails have never really gained much traction in the way of actual deployment. Today, NASA has taken an important step towards testing solar sail technology for use in future spacecraft.
The Nanosail-D spacecraft was launched Friday, Nov. 19 at 8:25 p.m. EST from Kodiak Island, Alaska, and was piggybacking on another satellite, both aboard a Minotaur IV rocket.
It has successfully been ejected from the launch vehicle as of today, and is on its own. Though the sails have yet to deploy, this is already an achievement that bodes well for the future of both solar sail and small satellite technology.