Team Encounter, a project of Encounter 2001, LLC (Houston, Texas), and the
Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA), announced today the awarding of a contract to Team Encounter.

Team Encounter will be using a state-of-the-art solar sail to power the Team
Encounter spacecraft beyond the solar system. When fully deployed (at
almost 1.2 acres), the Team Encounter solar sail may be visible in the night
sky with the naked eye for approximately one week, and 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). In
development for several years, a solar sail uses an endless supply of
photons from the sun to exert force on the solar sail enabling the
spacecraft to be propelled forward into deep space. High acceleration, and
free solar fuel make the solar sail option attractive to Team Encounter.

“NOAA’s interest in solar sails lay in their ability to maintain high energy
orbits with unique viewing perspectives,” said Pat Mulligan, lead for space
weather requirements for NOAA. “For example, some satellites currently
reside in the sun-earth L1 point, the place in space where the sun and earth
‘s gravities balance each other. If equipped with solar sails the
satellites can be placed closer to the sun providing earlier warning of
solar storms which can disrupt electrical distribution grids and satellite

“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,” said Mulligan. “The potential uses of such “pole
sitters” are still being evaluated, but it appears likely that they could
relay lower orbiting satellites data in real time, and inexpensively. And
the constant view of the polar regions rotating beneath could be a major
advancement in the field of meteorology and climate studies.”

Team Encounter has recently completed a successful sail and boom test,
representing a truly significant event in the history of spaceflight.
Laboratory test results demonstrate that Team Encounter has made significant
progress in manufacturing the thinnest metalized solar sail material ever
assembled, packaged, and deployed in ground tests. Similarly, efforts have
progressed in manufacturing an inflated boom structure which is much lighter
than any previously attempted.

A world renowned array of engineers, scientists and space visionaries have
recently gathered for a major conference. Among those in attendance were:
organizations of aerospace experts conducting third party reviews of the
Team Encounter mission; representatives of the international space insurance
community; government agencies interested in the mission; and world leaders
in the marketing of aerospace services to the general public; Team Encounter
‘s international and domestic partners; and academic representatives.

The Team Encounter spacecraft is designed by AeroAstro, a premier
micro-satellite technology and services company, based in Herndon, Virginia,
with clients including NASA, and the Air Force. The spacecraft will propel
the sail out of Earth’s gravity well.

The 4,900 square meter, solar sail is being designed and built by L’Garde,
Inc., a Tustin, California based company founded in 1971 specializing in
inflatable space structures. L’Garde has designed and manufactured
approximately 150 inflatable objects that have successfully flown in space.

Using a base material one-seventy-sixth the thickness of a human hair, the
Team Encounter solar sail will be 75 m by 75 m with a mass of 18kg
(including a payload consisting of messages, drawings, photographs, and DNA
signatures of 3 to 5 million human participants). The Team Encounter
spacecraft will unfurl the giant solar sail at about 40,000 miles (64,000
kilometers) from Earth.

“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 visitors the opportunity to participate in this
historic space mission. People can obtain the necessary materials, 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.

COntact: Christopher Pancheri -or- Susan Schonfeld

713/522-7282 or 713/927-9002 845/364-5309 or 845/364-4000

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

For information on NOAA’s Space Environment Center, visit: