Wootton Bassett propel Mission X forward with a Solar Sail Buggy competition

Hi Mission X Trainee Astronauts,

Hannah from the UK Space Agency here again.

Congratulations on your success with Mission X 2012 and getting Astro Charlie to the moon!

I visited Wootton Bassett School in Wiltshire last month for their Solar Sail Buggy design competition. Mr Gould, from Design and Technology, introduced the Mission X students to solar sails; sails that use the Sun's solar wind to push spacecraft forward, much like sails on a ship.

Mission X students from Wootton Bassett School, Noremarsh Junior School, Lyneham Primary School, Broad Town School, Lydiard Millicent Primary School and St Sampson's Junior School competed to design the best solar sail for their buggies. "This is our favourite activity so far" said Ant and Alex.

After constructing the buggies and designing and building the sails the buggies were given names such as "Destructo" and "Annihilator" before being pitted against each other, using a fan to simulate the solar wind. All the buggies successfully picked up the solar wind but it was a short, wide sail that won the race.

Hopefully, these solar sail designers will go on to design the spacecraft of the future and help reduce the amount fuel we need for human spaceflight.

WB_make sail