Solar Sails: The Future of Space Travel

Type of Resource



From TeachEngineering - Working as if they were engineers, students design and construct model solar sails made of aluminum foil to move cardboard tube satellites through “space” on a string. Working in teams, they follow the engineering design thinking steps—empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test, redesign—to design and test small-scale solar sails for satellites and space probes. During the process, learn about Newton’s laws of motion and the transfer of energy from wave energy to mechanic

Performance Expectations

MS-PS4-2   Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.

MS-ETS1-4   Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.