NanoSail-D is fully functional
We reported a few days ago that NanoSail-D, feared dead after jamming in its launch pod, had suddenly popped free from FASTSAT. The article concluded with an appeal from NASA to ham radio operators to assist in detecting its beacon, and recording the encoded status signals.
A few days ago, John Boudreau (callsign VE8EV) managed to do exactly that and was the first person able to confirm that NanoSail-D was not only active, but had successfully deployed its sails. You can read his story here.
NanoSail-D has a relatively low orbit, and is not intended to test the use of solar sails for space travel. Rather, it is hoped that the fully-unfurled sails will increase its drag through the Earth’s ionosphere and bring it down from orbit far quicker than would normally happen. If so, it will open the way to newer and cheaper ways to deorbit (or simply to change orbits) for larger and more sophisticated satellites which are ready to be decommissioned.