Gama, a French aerospace company, raises $2 Million As sea breezes drive sailboats along the ocean floor on Earth, so too might solar radiation be able one day to propel spacecraft between distant stars. Or at least that’s the hope of French startup Gama.

The aerospace company was established in 2020 by ThibaudElziere, Louis de Gouyon Matignon and Andrew Nutter. Their goal is to develop a low cost solar sail that could be used as propulsion for spacecraft.

Gama received funding of $2 million from the French Public Investment Bank, the French Space Agency (CNES), as well as angel investors in order to demonstrate its technology on the ground in October.

This mission will see a CubeSat launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket, followed by a 789-square feet solar sail at 342 Miles.

Solar sails were not a new invention. Johannes Kepler was the first to think of solar sails. He wrote to Galileo Galilei in 1608 about his thoughts on them.

But the first successful deployment of a solar sail didn’t occur until 2010: the IKAROS “space yacht,” a mission by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

That same year, NASA launched NanoSail-D, and in 2019, the space advocacy group Planetary Society launched LightSail 2.

Gama is not the only one that is developing new solar sail missions. NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System (ACS3) will have Illinois-based NanoAvionics design a spacecraft with an 800-square-foot solar sail.

Breakthrough Initiatives’ Breakthrough Starshot mission, which has received $100 million in funding, plans to send a fleet of hundreds of tiny solar sail-powered spacecraft to the star system Alpha Centauri, located 4.7 light-years away.

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