22 June 2005
News - Power (Bad)
Solar Spacecraft Launched...
and lost
by Carol Pinchefsky
by Carol Pinchefsky

Today the Russian Space Agency, working with California's Planetary Society, launched and lost the world's first solar sail spacecraft, Cosmos 1.

According to the Planetary Society updates, the "Volna rocket may have had a problem during its first or second stage firing." The launch was staged from a Russian nuclear submarine.

Cosmos 1 was an important craft for two reasons: first, it would have proven the viability of a solar sail, a fuel-less craft propelled by the pressure of sunlight. This would have opened up the use of solar power in vehicles. Solar power could potentially be used to correct the position of an orbit or even provide a vehicle for interplanetary travel.

Second, it was, according to a previous CNN article, "launched by space enthusiasts who cobbled the privately funded mission together on $4 million."

According to an update on the Planetary Society website, "Cosmos 1 made it into orbit, but probably a lower one than intended."

Space Future offers condolences to the members of the Cosmos 1 team.
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Carol Pinchefsky 22 June 2005
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