First Solar Sail Spacecraft Ready for Daring Flight
Cosmos 1 , the world's first solar sail spacecraft, now has a launch date of Summer Solstice, June 21, 2005.
The innovative and first-of-its-kind solar sail, a project of The Planetary Society and Cosmos Studios, will launch atop a converted ICBM from a submerged Russian submarine.
It will deploy in Earth orbit and attempt the first controlled flight of a solar sail.
A message from Ann Druyan (widow of Carl Sagan)
Cosmos 1 is scheduled to lift off on the day of the summer solstice. Imagine the rays of the sun striking the solstice markers at the ancient astronomical observatories of Stonehenge and Chaco Canyon as Cosmos 1 rises from out of the sea and into the sky.
What better way to honor our ancestors than to continue the voyage to the stars that they began?
On that day, as on every other one, I will be thinking of Carl Sagan and all I learned from him about the joys of being alive in the cosmos. He envisioned that we would learn to use the awesome powers of science with wisdom and foresight. . . That the wonders of nature revealed by science would belong to each and every one of us. . . .And that we would someday find our way to the distant stars.
Cosmos 1's launch vehicle is an intercontinental ballistic missile that was originally designed to deliver a nuclear weapon of mass death to a city somewhere on our tiny pale blue dot. Now she has been converted to a peaceful and even mythic purpose. She will carry a new kind of spacecraft into earth orbit.
Four days later Cosmos 1 will open its eight massive reflective sails to test a revolutionary and potentially much faster way of moving through the universe. Cosmos 1 is a ship designed to ride the light.
If we succeed, perhaps someday fleets of light ships will carry our descendents on voyages of exploration to the worlds that circle other suns.
We expect that Cosmos 1 will be a naked eye object. If you should catch sight of it sailing the summer skies, please pause a moment to remember the generations of life and consciousness that made Cosmos 1 possible. . . And then find something to do to protect this ancient continuity. . .To help us overcome our planet-wide madness, so that the generations that follow us will have their chance at the stars. Let Cosmos 1 be a signal flare of our determination to do so.
To learn more visit these sites:
Cosmos One Solar Sail Tracking Site
Planetary Society Solar Sail Site