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Media Invited to View Near-Earth Asteroid Scout Solar Sail, Space Launch System Progress

Editor’s note: NASA is delaying the Near Earth Asteroid Scout solar sail deployment test and media event. During the final assembly phase, the NEA Scout team discovered an issue with the deployment boom. The team is working to prepare a replacement boom. As soon as the issue is corrected, the team will provide a revised test date.

Concept image of the NEA Scout CubeSat
The concept image above shows the NEA Scout CubeSat with its solar sail deployed as it characterizes a near-Earth asteroid.

Media are invited to view the flight solar sail for propulsion test of NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid Scout at 1:30 p.m. CDT on Thursday, April 26 at prime contractor ManTech NeXolve’s Huntsville test facility. NASA and industry representatives will be also available for interviews before the NeXolve event at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

NEA Scout and 12 other small satellites will launch as secondary payloads on Exploration Mission-1 of NASA’s Space Launch System and Orion Spacecraft. NEA Scout is a CubeSat developed jointly between Marshall and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. CubeSats are small spacecraft built for space-based science, exploration and engineering. NEA Scout relies on an innovative solar sail for propulsion and will be America’s first interplanetary solar sail mission. When deployed, the sail — square in shape with each side about the length of a school bus — harnesses solar energy to use as propulsion to move through space.

Journalists will also have an opportunity to tour the command center where the NEA Scout satellite will be tracked at Marshall and view SLS intertank test progress and interview representatives from the SLS team.

A structural test version of the intertank for NASA’s deep-space rocket, the Space Launch System
A structural test version of the intertank for NASA’s deep-space rocket, the Space Launch System, is prepared for installation into a test stand at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
NASA/MSFC/Tyler Martin

To attend, media should contact Shannon Ridinger at or 256-544-0034 by 12 p.m. CDT Wednesday, April 25.

The SLS intertank test article arrived at Marshall on the Pegasus barge in March. It will be tested in a new test stand where engineers will use the stand to push, pull and bend the test article exposing it to millions of pounds of force to simulate the rocket’s launch.  The flight version of the intertank will connect the rocket’s core stage fuel tanks, serve as the upper-connection point for the two solid rocket boosters and house the avionics and electronics that will serve as the “brains” of the rocket.

To tour the NEA Scout command center and see the new SLS intertank test stand, media should plan to arrive at Gate 9 of the Redstone Arsenal Joint Visitor Control Center at the Interstate 565 interchange of Rideout Road and Research Park Boulevard no later than 11:15 a.m. for badging and security clearance. Media must provide one form of government-issued photo identification for badging. Access to the post requires proof of vehicle insurance. The Marshall tour and media opportunity will last approximately one and half hours. After the tour at Marshall, the group will reconvene at NeXolve’s test facility located at 355 Quality Circle, Suite B, Huntsville, Alabama, at 1:30 p.m. to view the flight solar sail and speak with NEA-Scout representatives.


Shannon Ridinger
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.