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|Cosmos 1 Ready for Launch|
The world's first solar sail is ready for launch. Cosmos 1, a
project of the Planetary Society and Cosmos Studios, represents the
first fully-functional solar sail ever developed. It will launch during
a period starting June 21 atop a converted ICBM from a submerged
Credit: The Planetary Society.
A solar sail offers some opportunities for interplanetary
travel, accelerating slowly and propelled by photons from the Sun.
Solar sails are a reusable alternative to traditional rocket fuel, weighing much less than rocket engines at just a few pounds. Additionally,
where rockets can only accelerate for a short period of time before
expending their fuel, a solar sail can accelerate constantly. Within a
few short years, a solar sail could exit the solar system.
Another part of the mission involves firing a microwave beam
from the Earth to see if a solar sail can be further accelerated by
means of a laser. Should this method be successful, a short and
inexpensive trip to any part of the solar system would be a reality. In
any case, the mission is already a ringing success for the newly
established private-enterprise space race, spurred onward by
SpaceShipOne in October.
(More info: The Planetary Society)
- posted by Alex @ 14:48 EST