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Electric Solar Wind Sail (E-sail)


E-sail projects



Aalto-1 student satellite

100 m long test tether experiment was launched in June 2017 onboard the Aalto-1 satellite. We are waiting for other experiments to finish and the satellite's subsystems be tested so that our experiment could be started.

NASA HERTS-2 project

In phase 2 of the project, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center makes experiments in plasma chamber to measure the strength of the E-sail effect.

NASA HERTS-1 project

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center studied how to apply to the electric sail for a rapid heliopause mission in their HERTS project (Heliopause Electrostatic Rapid Transit System) in 2014.

ESTCube-1 satellite

The ESTCube-1 satellite was launched on May 7 2013 to polar sun-synchronous 667 km orbit from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. ESTCube-1 is a 1U CubeSat and Estonia's first satellite. Its main task is to measure the strength of the E-sail effect in low Earth orbit. ESTCube-1 will deploy a 10 m long tether and charge it up which allows us to measure the E-sail force exerted on the tether by the ionospheric ram flow acting on the satellite. We use the ionospheric ram flow as a substitute for the solar wind to be able to measure the E-sail effect (Coulomb drag) at low cost in low Earth orbit.

The progress of the ESTCube-1 mission can be followed on its Facebook page. An ESTCube special issue was published in May 2014 with 9 technical peer-reviewed articles.

ESTCube-1 delivered to launch provider in January 2013

Vega lifting off from rainy Kourou on May 7, 2013

ESAIL EU FP7 project

The ESAIL EU FP7 project (2011-2013) developed laboratory prototypes (TRL 4-5) of the key components of the E-sail. The project involved five countries, nine institutes and had a EU contributed budget of about 1.7 million euros.