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Planetary Society solar sail project suffers setback
Posted: Wed, Apr 11, 2001, 7:00 PM ET (2300 GMT)
Cosmos 1 solar sail The first test flight of a solar sail will be delayed for an unspecified period because of a testing mishap, the Planetary Society announced Wednesday. A suborbital test flight of the Cosmos 1 solar sail was scheduled for April 26 from a Volna rocket launched from a Russian submarine in the Barents Sea. However, the spacecraft was damaged during ground tests when the spacecraft was being integrated with the booster; preliminary reports provided by the Planetary Society indicate that the "actual operation sequence" of the spacecraft was triggered while the spacecraft was mounted for testing. The spacecraft will be taken back to its Russian manufacturer to better determine the extent of the damage and the length of the launch delay. The April suborbital flight was intended to be a test for an orbital flight, also launched from a Russian sub, later this year that would be the first time a solar sail was deployed in space. The flight, sponsored by Cosmos Studios, has been billed as the first mission by a private space interest organization.
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