Cosmos 1 Set for April 30th Launch

April 1, 2005

Physical Sciences, Technology

After several years of planning and scheduling delays, the Planetary Society will be launching the Cosmos 1 solar sail on April 30th. The sail assembly will be mated to a Russian ICBM (Voina class) and launched from a Russian submarine in the Barents Sea. Given the fact that this will be a submarine launch of an ICBM, the flight logistics have required special clearances/approvals consistent with the terms of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). A good primer on the mission (as well as solar sail technology) can be found at How Stuff Works.

This reminds me of the Explorers episode from the third season of Star Trek DS-9. In this episode, Sisko built a Bajoran ship to re-enact the ancient flight of the Bajorans to Cardassia. Alright, that’s enough geek nostalgia for today.

If this sail works, then the Planetary Society has discussed subsequent missions to further explore the technology. This should be fun. Interplanetary flight simply by light pressure is a staggering mission for anyone – especially a non-governmental agency. Carl Sagan would be proud.



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