NanoSail-D/ PRESat update: NASA’s NanoSail-D and PRESat missions ended on Aug. 2, 2008, about two minutes after launch, when the SpaceX Falcon 1 launch vehicle experienced a problem during stage separation and was unable to achieve an Earth orbit.
Although we were not able to test these payloads in space, NASA mission managers and payload engineers achieved success in these two low-cost missions by rapidly pulling together expertise from across the agency to develop, build and ground-test an innovative solar sail nanosatellite and a fundamental space biology micro-laboratory. The communications team also successfully established a fully operational South Pacific Ground Communication System using two ground stations, which were transported and installed at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands and at the Universidad Centroamericana in El Salvador.
These missions provided an excellent opportunity for collaboration between two NASA centers, other government agencies, academia and the burgeoning space industry. Through the development of NanoSail-D and PRESat, NASA gained experience and knowledge it can apply to future small and nanosatellite missions.
NASA’s PharmaSat Risk Evaluation (PRESat) nanosatellite is about the size of a loaf of bread, weighs about 10 pounds and was constructed in just six months. PRESat contains a micro-laboratory with a controlled environment packed with sensors and optical systems that can detect the growth, density and health of yeast cells. PRESat will demonstrate its ability to create a stable, space science laboratory using innovative environment control techniques, and to monitor the levels of pressure, temperature and acceleration.
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