Mission Will Test Drag Sail to Bring Rocket Back to Earth

Purdue Ph.D. candidate Arly Black (front) and lab engineer Anthony Cofer test sail deployment for Spinnaker3. (Purdue University photo/David Spencer)

A drag sail, developed at Purdue University, will be onboard a rocket and deploy at the end of the rocket’s mission to accelerate the vehicle’s deorbit. A drag sail passively helps spacecraft deorbit even if it is inoperable or out of propellant.

The Spinnaker3 drag sail features 3-meter-long carbon fiber booms that pull out a sail with an area of 194 square feet.