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Japan to launch Ikaros - first solar powered space craft May 2010

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posted on May, 1 2010 @ 04:56 AM

Japan is to launch the world's first solar-powered spaceship on May 18, 2010.

The spacecraft, dubbed Ikaros, will be the first in humna history to enter deep space using only solar energy, world media reports.

The ship is equipped with 15-meter long ultra thin wings –thinner than human hair – that are covered with special cells which will generate energy from the sun.

Solar sails have been tested in vacuum chambers by NASA in the past, but the agency failed to successfully deploy this technology.

If successful, the Icarus will be the first craft to use solar sails in space as a primary propulsion method.

A ground control station on Earth will navigate the panels of the Japanese invention in the direction of the sun rays.

The craft has cost USA 16 M to build. The rocket that will carry it into space on May 18 will also launch Japan’s first satellite to Venus.


It's name is an acronym for Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun. It also alludes to the Greek mythic hero Icarus who flew too close to the Sun and fell into the sea," the spokesman said.

The spacecraft propelled only by sunlight particles bouncing off its kite-shaped sails will blast off from Tanegashima Space Center.

If the mission is a success then Jaxa would further missions to the red giant Jupiter and Trojan using sails more than twice as the size of the Ikaros.

I hope it has a more sucessful take-off than the other series of mishaps lately - The Hypersonic Craft - the Space Balloon Aust. ...

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