View Full Version : Solar Sail Gets Ready For Launch

06-20-2005, 09:07 PM
Solar sail gets ready for launch


Cosmos-1 uses the Sun's photons for propulsion

A solar sail spacecraft launches on Tuesday, to demonstrate an elegant new way to power interplanetary probes.

The Cosmos-1 mission is privately funded - half the money will come from a TV studio - and lift-off will be from a Russian submarine in the Barents Sea.

The sail reflects particles of light, or photons, from the Sun, gaining momentum in the opposite direction and driving the spacecraft forward.

Some think solar sails offer a cheaper, faster form of spacecraft propulsion.

The US, European, Japanese and Russian space agencies also have solar sail programmes in the offing.

Speed pick-up
The Planetary Society, based in Pasadena, California, is sponsoring the launch of the $4m (£2.1m) experimental spacecraft. US space agency (Nasa) scientists have reportedly expressed interest in the data it will collect.

After launch, the 99kg (220lbs) Russian-built craft will reach a 804km- (500 mile-) high orbit. It will then take pictures of Earth for four days before unfurling its eight aluminium-backed plastic sail blades into a 30m (100ft) circle.

The craft will orbit Earth once every 101 minutes for weeks. Sunlight on the sails will only increase the speed of the satellite up to 161km/h (100 mph) each day, but the spacecraft should pick up greater speed as time goes on.

Cosmos-1 will be launched into space aboard a modified Volna intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from a submarine in the Barents Sea. Typically, the Volna does not have enough thrust to reach orbit.

But the missile used for Cosmos-1 will have an added rocket engine (kick stage) of a type used to de-orbit satellites.

The kick-stage engine will provide the additional thrust required to get Cosmos-1 into orbit.

The launch on Tuesday is timed for 1946 GMT (2046 BST).

06-21-2005, 02:17 AM
Wow, that's a really cool idea. I hope they can get actual pictures of it flying.

06-21-2005, 02:39 AM
I'd like to see the pics too!!!