Gama Raises $2 Million in Pre-Seed Funding to Develop a Solar Sail Spacecraft

Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/af/IKAROS_solar_sail.jpg

Gama Raises $2M to Develop a Solar Sail Spacecraft

Gama, a French aerospace was founded in 2020 by Louis de Gouyon Matignon, Thibaud Elziere and Andrew Nutter. The 3 founders considered how sea breezes propels sailboats across the sea and considered developing a low-cost solar sail that would use light as a means of propulsion for spacecraft. Solar sails operate almost identically to traditional sails, using photons for propulsion rather than wind. 

With this goal in mind, Gama has raised $2 million in Pre-Seed funding from the French Public Investment Bank (BPI), the French Space Agency (CNES) and angel investors. In October, Gama will have a CubeSat launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, after which a 789-square-foot solar sail will deploy at an altitude of 342 miles.

Source: Gamaspace.com

Solar sails are not exactly a new invention, rather it was successfully demonstrated in 2010 by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NASA. In 2019, the space advocacy group Planetary Society launched LightSail 2. Other organizations are also developing new solar sail missions, such as NanoAvionics and Breakthrough Initiatives. 

According to Nutter, Gama differs from others in two key areas:

“First, the team at Gama strives to iterate and move extremely fast, launching the first of many solar sails in record time,” says Nutter. “Second, we are deploying the sail by gently spinning the satellite, and using the resultant centrifugal force to deploy the petals of our sail. This allows us to save on structural weight and deploy much larger surfaces in due course.” 

Solar sails, in theory can reduce or eliminate the amount of propellant a spacecraft needs to carry. Again, in theory, if this works, spacecraft could be propelled indefinitely. Not requiring fuel to propel for prolong periods, could induce a faster adoption of space travel through reduced cost, which for now is limited to a select few.

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