Press Release

Humanity’s First Starship and its Technology to be Previewed at World Space Congress

By SpaceRef Editor
October 10, 2002
Filed under ,

WHO: Team Encounter, the world leader in public participation space

WHAT: Exhibition of solar sail technology in advance of our upcoming
historic Earthview spaceflight. Spacecraft development team members’
contributions (MicroSat Systems, L’Garde, Inc., and Ecliptic Enterprises)
will also be on display. Information available about accommodations for
secondary payloads on our spacecraft, scheduled for launch in 2004, will
also be available.

WHERE: Booth #733 at the World Space Congress, Houston, Texas

WHEN: October 14th-19th

Team Encounter, (Houston, Texas), announces the historic development of
humanity’s first interstellar spacecraft, Humanity’s First Starship®.

Team Encounter consists of two historic missions:

Mission One “EARTHVIEW”- Designed for launch on an European Space Agency
Ariane-5 rocket, the Team Encounter Earthview Flight spacecraft, will
demonstrate solar sail technology in geosynchronous transfer orbit.
Scheduled for launch in the 4th quarter of 2004, the spacecraft will remain
in GTO for up to 90 days executing secondary mission objectives. At the end
of that time, the primary mission, a 20m X 20m solar sail, will be deployed.

Team Encounter’s primary mission objective for the Earthview Flight is to
verify the design, deployment scheme, and controllability of a 20m X 20m
solar sail in GTO. Knowledge gained from this flight will be applied to the
larger (70m X 70m) solar sail known as “Humanity’s First Starship” solar
system escape mission in 2005. That flight will carry a 3kg payload of
messages and DNA samples for Team Encounter’s public participation
customers. Both sails and the events surrounding their missions are
available for corporate sponsorship.

Team Encounter has assembled a strong team for design, manufacture, test,
and launch of the Earthview Flight solar sail mission. The team includes
Microsat Systems, Inc. of Littleton, CO; L’Garde, Inc. of Tustin, CA; and
Ecliptic Enterprises of Pasadena, CA. MSI is responsible for the spacecraft
bus, L’Garde for the solar sail components, and Ecliptic for the high
resolution video capture system for monitoring the solar sail deployment.
Arianespace will provide launch services via an Ariane-5 launch vehicle.
Team Encounter intends to announce the final team member for a small
free-flyer spacecraft, to monitor the solar sail deployment from afar, in
the near future.

Team Encounter’s Earthview Flight spacecraft can also accommodate secondary
payloads of opportunity for government or commercial customers at a much
reduced cost (via commercial leveraging) than could be obtained through
conventional means. Up to 20 kg of payload mass can be integrated and
provided with power, data storage, and downlink capabilities. External
fields-of-view are available. Interested parties should contact the
undersigned ASAP for details. Payload data will be gathered prior to solar
sail deployment for downlink to the ground. Extended mission options may
also be considered following deployment activities.

Team Encounter has funded enabling gossamer structure technology
developments at L’Garde. As a result, inflatable, rigidizing booms and
state-of-the-art fabrication and packaging methods are now available for
implementation on our two missions. Ground test results have been contracted
for by NOAA. Future NOAA solar reconnaissance missions may require renewable
propulsion options such as solar sails to position their spacecraft closer
to the sun to provide earlier solar storm warning times for the earth. Team
Encounter technology may now make those missions possible. In addition,
another new perspective comes from solar sail satellites having the ability
to orbit around the sun riding high or below the Earth, constantly looking
down on polar regions. The potential uses of such “pole sitters” could relay
lower orbiting satellites data in real time, and inexpensively. The constant
view of the polar regions rotating beneath could be a major advancement in
the field of meteorology and climate studies.

MicroSat Systems (MSI), from Littleton, CO, provides an affordable
micro-satellite that meets the requirements of the Team Encounter Earthview
Flight objectives. The spacecraft design is based in the TechSat 21
spacecraft design. MSI is building up to three TechSat 21 busses for the Air
Force Research Lab to demonstrate enabling technologies for spacecraft for
the twenty-first century. Many of the component and subsystem designs
developed for TechSat 21 will be used with no or minimal modifications to
meet the Earthview Flight requirements. Key features of the design include
its low mass (71.2kg), high available power (152W), downlink capability (84
kbps), and on-board data storage (128 MB). The bus and all components fit
within the Ariane-5 ASAP micro auxiliary payload stored volume envelope.
With the L’Garde, Inc. sailcraft attached to the carrier, the entire
spacecraft fits within a 593mm X 593 mm X 565mm box.

L’Garde, Inc. of Tustin, CA, is designing and building the inflatable boom
structure and deployable solar sail for the Team Encounter Earthview Flight.
L’Garde has been in the gossamer structures business since 1971 and is
experienced in developing materials, analytical methods and codes, packaging
and deployment methods, process initiation, release and inflation mechanisms
and methods, interfaces to mechanical rigid structures, and instrumentation
for inflatable space structures. Over 150 inflatable objects manufactured by
L’Garde have flown in space successfully to date.

High Definition video imagery of the solar sail deployment and fly away will
be provided by cameras mounted onboard the carrier. Ecliptic Enterprises
(Pasadena, CA) RocketCamT technology will be employed to capture the view of
the Earthview Flight solar sail as it begins its demonstration of a new
breed of renewable propulsion that will make Humanity’s First Starship

Mission Two – Humanity’s First Starship. Team Encounter is now designing a
state-of-the-art solar sail to power the Team Encounter spacecraft on a
journey beyond the solar system. When fully deployed (at almost 1.2 acres),
the Team Encounter solar sail will be the largest single structure ever
deployed in space. This solar sail will propel the Team Encounter spacecraft
into deep space at approximately 67,000 miles per hour (approximately four
times the speed of the Space Shuttle).

Team Encounter and its subcontractor, L’Garde, Inc. recently performed a
two-part deployment test of a 7.6m inflatable/rigidizable boom in Santa Ana,
CA. In the test, the boom material was initially packaged into a unit about
one-third of a meter long. The flexible boom was then inflated with nitrogen
gas, pushing small diameter sections out from inside the larger diameter
base section until fully inflated. Done in a water trough to alleviate the
effects of gravity on the boom, the inflation proceeded as expected making
possible the second part of the test.

Following inflation the boom was placed inside a 10m long Styrofoam “ice
chest” and chilled by liquid nitrogen. Simulating the coldness of space, the
nitrogen rigidized a resin material incorporated in the boom structure
providing load carrying capability along its length for the future Team
Encounter Solar Sail. At L’Garde, for the purposes of this test, the boom
was suspended at an angle in the test fixture and an incremental load was
affixed to a cup hanging from the boom tip to simulate the load of the solar
sail on the now rigid structure. This test was a remarkable success, as the
boom demonstrated a 5 X load carrying capability over what will be required
in flight.

More tests will be carried out over the coming months to replicate this
result and further demonstrate the viability of gossamer structures for
constructing large structures in space for a variety of applications.

“When successfully flown, the Team Encounter mission will demonstrate a
major advance in space propulsion, establish the financial viability of
entertainment-oriented space missions, and give 3-5 million people a chance
to participate in a real space mission,” said Charles Chafer, president of
Team Encounter. “The solar sail technology provides a low cost alternative
to conventional propulsion approaches, opens a new opportunity to develop
missions outside of the solar system, and enables a variety of new
technologies allowing the exploration of the universe.”

This most unique mission has already proven itself as an academic
inspiration for school children. School districts around the nation have
included the Team Encounter mission in their curriculum. Team Encounter is
encouraging schools worldwide to use this as an educational component to
build upon.

Team Encounter is offering people the opportunity to participate in this
historic space mission. By logging onto, people can obtain
the necessary materials to participate in this historic mission, allowing
them to submit their photos, messages, and biological “signatures” (in the
form of micro-hair samples), for placement on-board the spacecraft. The Team
Encounter spacecraft will carry this payload, like a “cosmic message in a
bottle,” out of the solar system as an “archive of humanity” for whomever or
whatever might discover the spacecraft in the years to come.

For more information on the Team Encounter mission, visit, or call 1-800-ORBIT-11.

SpaceRef staff editor.