A company is 'sailing' space to see how far they can go

Posted at 1:34 PM, Sep 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-30 03:07:31-04

Although scientists study space every day, what’s been difficult learning more about "deep space." But there's one company helping NASA and the U.S. Air Force go where no satellite has gone before.

"Deep space" is well outside the Earth's atmosphere, lying beyond the Earth-moon solar system. It's also known as "interstellar space."

Deep space is a mystery to a lot of scientists. NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft that was launched in the 1970s reached the edge of our solar system in 2011.

Many scientists are wanting to make their way past Jupiter to learn even more, but there are limitations in the space engine technology today. A company called Roccor, based in Longmont, Colorado, is doing their best to change that.

“We are just getting in a contract with NASA to do solar sailing where we are going to leave earths orbital realm and go much farther away,” said Bruce Davis, who works for Roccor.

Davis and his team are working on a project called the "solar cruiser."

They created what’s called a "solar sail." It essentially gets attached to a spacecraft and acts as a propeller, ultimately upping its performance by pushing it farther into deep space.

“We are capturing whatever is coming off the sun — that’s radiation, that’s photons — we call it a collective pressure," Davis said. "That’s what we are trying to grab to give ourselves propulsion.”

When the sail opens up, it’s as big as an office building. Right now, they are only in creation mode, but they hope to have it done soon.