So Long, Rollable Solar Array, and Thanks for All the Photons

After attempts to repack ROSA into the SpaceX Dragon capsule failed, the experiment was jettisoned.

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Jun 28 2017, 10:00am

After a week of soaking up the Sun's rays, the first rollable solar panel to be deployed in space has been kicked off its perch outside the International Space Station (ISS). Watch on as the Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA), a novel compact architecture that can be stored and unfurled like a yoga mat, drifts calmly away from the station to its eventual fiery death in reentry.

ROSA successfully extended from its cylindrical storage position to a full array on June 18, an event captured by several cameras outside the station. Over the next seven days, NASA scientists ran tests on the new solar model, which can be packed and transported more easily than the rigid rectangular structures that power most spacecraft, including the station.

Read More: This Orbital Fruit Roll-Up Could Be the Future of Solar Power in Space

But the team ran into trouble while trying to repack the array into a SpaceX Dragon capsule docked to the ISS, which is the same cargo ship that had delivered the experiment to space in early June.

On Monday, it was decided that ROSA be released from its binds and allowed to float off to deorbit, and burn up in the atmosphere. The array would have been destroyed during the Dragon's reentry anyway, but it's still a little sad to watch it receding into the distance, abandoned by its mothership. So long, ROSA, and thanks for a good show.

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