Mission Will Test Drag Sail to Bring Rocket Back to Earth

Drag Sail Image
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.