Cosmos 1 (solar sail)
An experimental solar sail built for
the Planetary Society in Russia by the Babakin
Space Center and funded by Cosmos Studios, a science-based media and entertainment
venture set up by Ann Druyan (wife of the late Carl Sagan) and A&E Network.
When opened out, the 600-square-meter sail, made of 5-micron aluminized
Mylar, is in the shape of eight roughly triangular blades. The first attempt
to deploy it, on a suborbital flight on Jul. 20, 2001, failed. It was carried
aboard a 100-kg spacecraft launched from a submerged Russian submarine in
the Barents Sea on a Volna, a converted submarine-launched
ICBM now being marketed for commercial use. Imaging systems aboard the spacecraft
are designed to show if the sail deploys, using an inflatable tube system
to which the sail material will be attached, as planned. Unfortunately the
spacecraft failed to separate from the third stage of the rocket, and as
a result the sails and the reentry capsule didn't deploy. The capsule continued
on its ballistic flight to the Kamchatka peninsula but was not recovered.
A second attempt to deploy Cosmos 1 from a Volna rocket, this time in a
near-circular 850-km orbit with an inclination of 78°, took place on
Jun. 21, 2005. However, this again ended in failure because of a problem
with the first stage of the launch vehicle some 83 seconds into the flight.
Space yacht rides
to stars on rays of sunlight (Feb 27, 2005)