Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The First Solar Sail Spacecraft

Cosmos 1: First Solar Sail Launched June 21, 2005


Image Courtesy of The Planetary Society
Picture shows the spacecraft with the sails deployed.

In what would once be considered science fiction out of some Jules Verne novel is now a reality.

The first solar sail was launched today on a mission to orbit the earth. The project is a joint venture from the Americans and Russians. The craft will be pushed along by a steady stream of photons from the sun which will propel the craft on its mission.

Future spacecrafts will be able to do interplanetary travel by adjusting the angle of the sails in relation to the sun.

The acceleration will be very slow but at a constant rate of acceleration. As the speed increases over a period of days, weeks, and months the speeds that can be attained will be much faster than any conventional means, propelling a spacecraft out of orbit onto other planets.

Go to the Planetary Society for current solarsail updates.

An additional interesting note is the spacecraft should be visible to the naked eye. It will be orbiting the earth about every one hundred minutes.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Well, it looks like the space craft did not make it into orbit. The launch vehicle failed.

Hopefully they will try again.