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Planetary Society planning first solar sail mission
Posted: Tue, Feb 27, 2001, 3:22 PM ET (2022 GMT)
Cosmos 1 solar sail The Planetary Society, in conjunction with a private company, has announced plans to fly the world's first solar sail mission later this year. The Cosmos 1 mission will place into Earth orbit a 40-kg spacecraft that will deploy a 30-meter sail composed of eight segments of thin aluminized mylar with a total surface area of 600 square meters. The spacecraft will spend several weeks in orbit, using light pressure on the sails to modify its orbit and eventually move outward, although there are no plans to leave Earth orbit altogether. A suborbital test flight is planned for April to test the deployment of two of the solar sail panels before the orbital flight between October and December of this year. Both flights will be launched by a Russian Volna rocket, a converted SS-N-18 ballistic missile that will be launched from a submarine in the Barents Sea. Using the Russian launch vehicle will keep mission costs down to as little as $4 million, to be funded by Cosmos Studios, a joint venture of Carl Sagan's widow Ann Druyan and Internet entrepreneur Joe Firmage. The mission is being billed as the first private mission of space exploration technology and the first mission by a private space-interest organization.
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