The Planetary Society, a U.S. nonprofit group devoted to space exploration, plans to launch the world's first solar sail spacecraft tomorrow.
Cosmos 1 will be launched from a submerged Russian submarine in the Barents Sea and carried into orbit by a converted intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Initially orbiting the Earth at an altitude of about 500 miles (800 kilometers), the spacecraft will gradually move outward by solar sailing—propelled by the pressure of light particles from the sun striking the craft's eight triangular sails.
The journey has no destination. The mission's goal is simply to prove that solar sail technology works.
Space sails carry no fuel and can continue accelerating over almost unlimited distances. This prompts scientists to envision a time when the technology may be used for future travel between planets in our solar system. Someday solar sails might be used to send astronauts to new worlds around other stars..........
National Geographic News, June 20, 2005 Read More