Japanese Solar-Powered Spaceship to Take Flight
Japan is to launch the world's first solar-powered spaceship on May 18, 2010.
The spacecraft, dubbed Ikaros, will be the first in humna history to enter deep space using only solar energy, world media reports.
The ship is equipped with 15-meter long ultra thin wings –thinner than human hair – that are covered with special cells which will generate energy from the sun.
Solar sails have been tested in vacuum chambers by NASA in the past, but the agency failed to successfully deploy this technology.
If successful, the Icarus will be the first craft to use solar sails in space as a primary propulsion method.
A ground control station on Earth will navigate the panels of the Japanese invention in the direction of the sun rays.
The craft has cost USA 16 M to build. The rocket that will carry it into space on May 18 will also launch Japan’s first satellite to Venus.
Ikaros stands for “Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun.” The name is also a reference to the Greek myth of Icarus – a young mand who, with his father Daedalus, attempted to escape exile in Crete by building wings of feathers and wax.
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