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      From left, NASA astronauts Suni Williams and Barry “Butch” Wilmore, Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT) pilot and commander, respectively, exit the Astronaut Crew Quarters at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida during a crew validation test on Oct. 18, 2022. The astronauts, with assistance from the Boeing team, successfully completed the validation test during which they suited up and tested out the pressurized crew module to ensure seat fit, suit functionality, cabin temperature, audio system, and day of launch operations.NASA/Kim Shiflett Digital content creators are invited to register to attend the launch of NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT) mission to the International Space Station. The mission will be the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
      Starliner will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, carrying NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Suni Williams to the orbiting laboratory for a stay of about one to two weeks. Liftoff is targeted for mid-April 2024 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex-41 in Florida.
      If your passion is to communicate and engage the world online, then this is the event for you! Seize the opportunity to see and share the #Starliner mission launch.
      A maximum of 50 social media users will be selected to attend this two-day event and will be given access similar to news media.
      NASA Social participants will have the opportunity to:
      View a crewed launch of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and Starliner spacecraft. Tour NASA facilities at Kennedy Space Center. Meet and interact with CFT subject matter experts. Meet fellow space enthusiasts who are active on social media. NASA Social registration for the CFT launch opens on Wednesday, Feb. 21, and the deadline to apply is at 3 p.m. EST Tuesday, Feb. 27. All social applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
      APPLY NOW
      Do I need to have a social media account to register?
      Yes. This event is designed for people who:
      Actively use multiple social networking platforms and tools to disseminate information to a unique audience. Regularly produce new content that features multimedia elements. Have the potential to reach a large number of people using digital platforms, or reach a unique audience, separate and distinctive from traditional news media and/or NASA audiences. Must have an established history of posting content on social media platforms. Have previous postings that are highly visible, respected and widely recognized. Users on all social networks are encouraged to use the hashtag #NASASocial and #Starliner. Updates and information about the event will be shared on X via @NASASocial and @NASAKennedy, and via posts to Facebook and Instagram.
      How do I register?
      Registration for this event opens Wednesday, Feb. 21, and closes at 3 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Feb. 27. Registration is for one person only (you) and is non-transferable. Each individual wishing to attend must register separately. Each application will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
      Can I register if I am not a U.S. citizen?
      Because of the security deadlines, registration is limited to U.S. citizens. If you have a valid permanent resident card, you will be processed as a U.S. citizen.
      When will I know if I am selected?
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      If you do not make the registration list for this NASA Social, you still can attend the launch offsite and participate in the conversation online. Find out about ways to experience a launch here.
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      To submit proposals, visit:
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      Lunar Surface Sustainability
      https://nspires.nasaprs.com/external/solicitations/summary!init.do?solId={48D6B21B-0171-D79D-E111-BCDFCC02E0F0}&path=open
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      NASA Marshall Space Flight Center technologists Les Johnson and Leslie McNutt at Redwire Space on Jan. 30, 2024, following a successful solar sail deployment test. NASA cleared a key technology milestone at Redwire’s new facility in Longmont, Colorado, with the successful deployment of one of four identical solar sail quadrants. Redwire Space By Wayne Smith
      In his youth, NASA technologist Les Johnson was riveted by the 1974 novel “The Mote in God’s Eye,” by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven, in which an alien spacecraft propelled by solar sails visits humanity. Today, Johnson and a NASA team are preparing to test a similar technology.
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      “This was a major last step on the ground before it’s ready to be proposed for space missions,” Johnson, who has been involved with sail technology at Marshall for about 25 years, said. “What’s next is for scientists to propose the use of solar sails in their missions. We’ve met our goal and demonstrated that we’re ready to be flown.”
      A solar sail traveling through deep space provides many potential benefits to missions using the technology because it doesn’t require any fuel, allowing very high propulsive performance with very little mass. This in-space propulsion system is well suited for low-mass missions in novel orbits.
      “Once you get away from Earth’s gravity and into space, what is important is efficiency and enough thrust to travel from one position to another,” Johnson said.
      A solar sail achieves that by reflecting sunlight – the greater the size of the sail, the greater thrust it can provide.
      Les Johnson
      NASA technologist
      Some of the missions of interest using solar sail technology include studying space weather and its effects on the Earth, or for advanced studies of the north and south poles of the Sun. The latter has been limited because the propulsion required to  get a spacecraft into a polar orbit around the sun is very high and simply not feasible using most of the propulsion systems available today. Solar sail propulsion is also possible for enhancing future missions to Venus or Mercury, given their closeness to the Sun and the enhanced thrust a solar sail would achieve in the more intense sunlight there.
      Moreover, it’s the ultimate green propulsion system, Johnson said – as long as the Sun is shining, the sail will have propulsion. Where the sunlight is less, he envisions a future where lasers could be used to accelerate the solar sails to high speeds, pushing them outside the solar system and beyond, perhaps even to another star. “In the future, we might place big lasers in space that shine their beams on the sails as they depart the solar system, accelerating them to higher and higher speeds, until eventually they are going fast enough to reach another star in a reasonable amount of time.”
      To learn more about solar sails and other NASA advanced space technology, visit:
      https://www.nasa.gov/space-technology-mission-directorate
      Jonathan Deal
      Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
      256-544-0034
      jonathan.e.deal@nasa.gov
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      Last Updated Feb 12, 2024 Related Terms
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