Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The world's first solar sail...

The Planetary Society has begun the count down to the launch of the world's first sola sail vehicle, Cosmos-1. It is currently scheduled for launch at the start of March next year.

CREDIT: Louis Friedman/The Planetary Society
Engineers watch a zero-gravity simulation of the sail deployment and test its mechanical configuration. This photo was taken in January 2001 at NPO Lavochkin.

If all goes to plan, Cosmos-1, which will be launched from a Russian nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea using a converted SS-N-18 Soviet ICBM (Volna), and operate for up to a month in low Earth orbit.

An attempt in July 2001 to launch a pervious version of the vehicle on a suborbital flight, designed to test new technology for unfurling solar sail blades, failed due to a malfunction in the Volna launch vehicle.

For those not familar with solar sails, you could do worse than having a look at my article for an introduction to the subject.