26 Jan '15, 10pm

Privately-funded Solar Sail Prepared For Launch

Privately-funded Solar Sail Prepared For Launch

In a parallel universe, a NASA-sponsored experimental solar sail—the largest ever built—would be launching into space next month along with the solar wind-monitoring DSCOVR spacecraft. That won’t happen in this universe: NASA cancelled the Sunjammer launch last year due to scheduling concerns, and it’s not clear when, or even if, the sail will get another opportunity to fly. But there is a bright spot on the near horizon for solar sail tests. The space advocacy organization The Planetary Society today announced that a date has been set for the first flight of its LightSail spacecraft. The 30-centimeter-long CubeSat— an increasingly popular class of small spacecraft— is set to take off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in May as a secondary payload on an Atlas V rocket. Solar sails are propelled by the momentum that photons impart when they bounce off a reflective surfa...

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/aerospace/space-flight...

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