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Japan prepares launch of first true solar sail

Posted on Saturday, 15 May, 2010 | Comment icon 10 comments

Image credit: NASA

The Japanese space agency will be launching the first ever spacecraft fully propelled by a solar sail.

Measuring 20 metres from corner to corner IKAROS, short for Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun will be the first spacecraft to use a solar sail as its primary method of propulsion.

"Icarus's wings melted when he flew too close to the sun."

  View: Full article |  Source: New Scientist

  Discuss: View comments (10)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by trancelikestate on 15 May, 2010, 20:08
I wonder how fast these crafts will go
Comment icon #2 Posted by J.B. on 15 May, 2010, 20:53
This is going to have a twofold effect if its successful. 1.) It will seriously cheapen the cost of space flight over time. 2.) It will spur more research into solar power, which will help the green movement in their battle for more efficient alternative energy. Speed ties into how much power you're getting. More power, more speed. I don't expect this first ship to move fast at all, but if they can prove the concept does work, it'll open the door to more testing and advanced research.
Comment icon #3 Posted by trancelikestate on 15 May, 2010, 21:57
I wonder if this could be the beginning of large crafts that will travel through space exploring for lifetimes at a time
Comment icon #4 Posted by Agent X on 15 May, 2010, 22:30
NICE! After it's been in a lot of animate and science fiction, it's nice to see this come to life!
Comment icon #5 Posted by Paracelse on 16 May, 2010, 5:26
Shouldn't problems like time and bone mass losses be solved first?
Comment icon #6 Posted by Brakzar Break on 16 May, 2010, 15:36
Reminds me of that one ship at the end of Star Wars Episode II.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Esoteric Toad on 19 May, 2010, 2:38
Didn't read the article (short on time), but what about micro-metorites. On a long trip it seems to me you would end up with a solar cobweb.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Amberlight on 19 May, 2010, 4:19
Awesome, hope it goes well.
Comment icon #9 Posted by J.B. on 20 May, 2010, 0:53
For now this'll be a short trip. Might still end up with a solar cobweb, but this is just proof of working concept. I can imagine the powersource being a shield as well, you know what I mean, a plasma barrier around the sail that burns off micrometeorites before they can injure the sail.

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