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Planetary Society announces solar sail plans
Posted: Wed, Nov 11, 2009, 7:13 AM ET (1213 GMT)
LightSail-1 illustration (TPS) The Planetary Society announced Monday plans to fly as many as three solar sail missions in the coming years to demonstrate the technology behind the concept. The first of the three LightSail spacecraft is scheduled for launch in late 2010, although a specific launch vehicle has not been selected yet. The small spacecraft, based on CubeSat designs, will weigh about 5 kilograms at launch and deploy a 32-square-meter Mylar sail once in orbit. Future LightSail missions will demonstrate the ability to fly into higher orbits and, eventually, the Earth-Sun L-1 libration point. The program is being supported by a $1-million donation from an anonymous benefactor. The Planetary Society previously attempted a solar sail project, Cosmos 1, but the spacecraft was lost when its Russia Volna rocket failed to reach orbit in 2005.
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