Cosmos 1 has 8 triangular sails, each 15 meters (50 feet) in length, configured around the spacecraft's body at the center. The sails will be deployed by inflatable tubes once the spacecraft is in orbit. Credit: The Planetary Society, NPO Lavochkin (c)
June 19, 2005 If you feel like being part of an ambitious scientific adventure over the next few days, spend a few minutes at the Planetary Society web site watching the lead up to the launch on June 21 of the first solar sail spacecraft, Cosmos 1. Solar sails power a spacecraft by the pressure of light particles from the Sun –there is no engine. This technology enables the spacecraft to keep accelerating over almost unlimited distances, and is the only technology now in existence that might one day take us to the stars. It’s not government funded but sponsored by Cosmos Studios, and supported by Members of The Planetary Society from all over the world. The spacecraft will be launched from a submerged Russian submarine in the Barents Sea and carried into orbit in a converted ICBM left over from the old Soviet arsenal. The aim of the mission is to demonstrate the feasibility of Solar Sail flight. There’s a live blog counting down the happenings and preparation all over the world for this momentous event and it is indeed very exciting stuff. The Planetary Society is the largest non-profit, non-governmental space advocacy group on Earth and we wish it the very best of luck in this grand endeavour.