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Date set for the launch of the first ever solar sail-powered spacecraft

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posted on Jun, 8 2005 @ 10:53 AM

A date has been set for the launch of the first ever solar sail-powered spacecraft.

Cosmos 1, which has been funded by The Planetary Society, is scheduled to launch aboard a Russian rocket from a submarine in the Barents Sea on June 21, testing a technology that many experts believe could one day power missions into deep space.

When the spacecraft reaches an orbiting altitude of 800 kilometers (500 miles), it will deploy eight triangular 15-meter (50-foot) sails that will be slowly propelled by the pressure of sunlight particles bouncing off them.

Over 24 hours, Cosmos 1 will reach a speed of just 100 miles an hour. But while fuel-powered spacecraft accelerate quickly before cruising at a constant speed, a solar sail would continue to gather momentum, eventually reaching a speed far in excess of anything achieved by conventional spacecraft.

After three years a solar sail would be traveling at more than 100,000 miles an hour -- a speed that would enable it to reach Pluto, the solar system's most outlying planet, in just five years.

Solar-sail power would also reduce the need for a spacecraft to carry heavy fuel reserves, increasing its range of mobility and enabling it to hover at a fixed point in space for longer periods of time.

NASA and other space agencies are developing their own versions of solar sail propulsion. Last month NASA tested a solar sail at its vacuum chamber in Ohio, while Japan has already deployed two solar sails in space.

"The data from this historic flight is critical because solar sailing is a technology that holds much promise for humanity's future in space," said Cosmos 1 project director Louis Friedman, who established The Planetary Society with late American astronomer Carl Sagan.

"If successful, this technology may transform the way we explore space."

Once deployed, The Planetary Society said the solar sail would be clearly visible from earth as it orbited the planet.


This is the best news i've heard in quiet some time

This is a revolution in space travel the way i see it. IMO the actual trip will be as signifiacnt as the first time man went to space.

[edit on 8-6-2005 by Stealth Spy]

posted on Jun, 8 2005 @ 10:56 AM
A solar sail is a spacecraft without an engine - it is pushed along directly by light particles from the Sun, reflecting off giant mirror-like sails. Because it carries no fuel and keeps accelerating over almost unlimited distances, it is the only technology now in existence that can one day take us to the stars.

Cosmos 1 has 8 triangular sails, each 15 meters (50 feet) in length, configured around the spacecraft's body at the center. The sails will be deployed by inflatable tubes once the spacecraft is in orbit.

The spacecraft will be launched from a submerged Russian submarine in the Barents Sea. It will be carried into orbit on board a Volna rocket - a converted ICBM left over from the old Soviet arsenal.

Cosmos 1 will orbit the Earth at an altitude of over 800 kilometers. It will gradually raise its orbit by solar sailing -- the pressure of light particles from the Sun upon its luminous sails.

The Spacecraft is being built in Russia by NPO Lavochkin under contract to The Planetary Society. Cosmos Studios is the project's sole sponsor.

The mission will demonstrate the feasibility of Solar Sail flight, opening the way to interplanetary travel and someday - sailing to the stars.

posted on Jun, 8 2005 @ 11:05 AM
ok the ship is travelling at 100,000 mph how do u get the ship to slow down even stop . i am no proffessional but wouldnt u need an engine of some sort to slow it down
100,000 mph towards pluto with no brakes time to panick

posted on Jun, 8 2005 @ 11:07 AM
good job spy.

I have made a couple posts about this too.

Unfortunatly they have had so many delays and change of launch dates that nobody is interested anymore.

I do seem to remember reading lately that they have agreed to let someone test an earth based microwave stream to see if they can push it with it.


posted on Jun, 8 2005 @ 11:37 AM
There is a programme called "Space and Time" that comes on BBC World here in India.

There was a half an hour show on solar sail powered flight.

NASA did test it by builiding a grid of powerful lights so as to create a "virtual sun" and you could actually see the sample move.

Its based on the principle wherin the incident photons on the material transfer their momentum to it and make it move. By making the sample sufficiently light and thin, it is possible to attain propulsion from the incident photons. By making the surface area greater, and by ensuring that it always faces the sun, a greater propulsion will be achieved and this mind boggling propulsion is so great that it can propel its load to unearthly speeds.

posted on Jun, 8 2005 @ 11:39 AM
nice to see it on your avatar


posted on Jun, 8 2005 @ 12:06 PM
There appears to be several threads about this thing. I might as well mention mine. They will launch Cosmos 1 on June 21st and then another space-thingy on July 5-8th. Strange place to launch a thing into space...

Two Space Vehicles To Be Launched From Submarine

posted on Jun, 8 2005 @ 04:38 PM
Nice job Hellmutt,

Everything about this launch is unique and interesting.

I am especially interested in the tests with the microwaves. I am sure I read more of the technical details somewhere.

The Planetary Society and Cosmos Studios are working with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to test microwave propulsion on their planned Cosmos 1 spacecraft.

A test will also be conducted in which microwave energy will be beamed from JPL to Cosmos 1 to study this method of propulsion. Rather than using beamed energy to power a propulsion system, Cosmos 1 will actually use the microwaves hitting the sail to push the craft forward.

microwave energy will be transmitted spaceward via a large radio dish in Goldstone, California - a powerful antenna that's part of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Deep Space Network.

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