Japan's solar sail-powered "space yacht" is all set to launch on May 18. Ikaros (Interplanetary Kite-Craft Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun) will be the first spacecraft of its kind to attempt to reach deep space.
The craft's 46-foot sails, outfitted with ultra-thin solar cells, will be steered by mission control from the ground, tweaking the angles to ensure enough of the sun's rays are hitting the craft to keep it powering on into space. Other solar-sailed crafts have gone into space, but none have made it beyond orbit. One reason could be that it's not a cheap mission. The JAXA space program has already spent $16 million on this project.
Ikaros will be launched into space by a rocket along with Japan's first Venus-bound satellite before they separate and Ikaros goes fuel-free for the rest of its journey.
The Planetary Society also has a solar-powered space flight planned for sometime this year. It will be interesting to see how the two fair.
via Popular Science
written by kinetic e bike, May 06, 2010
written by patrick, May 14, 2010
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