Submitted by: S.K. Sloan
A date has been set for the launch of the first ever solar sail powered spacecraft.
As reported by Slice of Sci-Fi last week in the ‘Sci-Fi to Sci-Fact’ News, NASA has been developing solar sail technology and hopes to be able to set it into motion soon. It appears that The Planetary Society has beat NASA to the launchpad on this one.
Dubbed “Cosmos 1,” The Planetary Society is scheduled to launch its own solar sail-powered craft from a Russian submarine on June 21st. This will be the first real test of this kind of technology in an actual outer space environment.
Once Cosmos 1 reaches an altitude of 500 miles it will deploy its eight triangular 50 foot sails. These will propel the craft due to solar particles that push against them.
Cosmos 1 is expected to reach a speed of 100 mph in its first 24 hours, but after three years will exceed speeds of 100,000 mph, allowing it to reach the farthest planet in our solar system, Pluto, within just 5 years.
According to project director, Louis Friedman, Cosmos 1 should be clearly visible from Earth as it orbits the planet before setting its sites to boldy go where no solar sail-powered craft has gone before.