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Planetary Society to move ahead with solar sail mission
Posted: Wed, Aug 22, 2001, 6:52 PM ET (2252 GMT)
Cosmos 1 solar sail The Planetary Society announced Wednesday that it plans to go ahead with an orbital test flight of a solar sail early next year despite the launch failure of a suborbital test flight last month. The Cosmos 1 spacecraft will be launched in early 2002 on a sub-launched Volna rocket and deploy a full eight-blade solar sail that will maneuver the spacecraft in orbit. The solar sail's deployment mechanism was to be tested on a suborbital flight last month, but a problem with the Volna's third-stage engine prevented the launch from deploying the spacecraft. However, officials with the Planetary Society and Russia's Babakin Space Center, builders of the solar sail, said they have learned enough to move ahead directly to an orbital test. A backup spacecraft will be built and could be launched later in 2002 if Cosmos 1 fails to meet all its mission objectives. If successful, the flight will be the first orbital test of a solar sail and the first privately-funded mission of space exploration technology.
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