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Planetary Society solar sail watch
By: Hassi Norlén | Source: The Planetary Society
May 30, 2005 4:10PM PDT
Views: 4537

Planetary Society solar sail watch

In just a few weeks, The Planetary Society will fly the first solar sail spacecraft. This private venture, sponsored by Cosmos Studios and the Members of The Planetary Society, will be historic. Light sailing is the technology that may someday take us to the stars, but for now the first attempt by a space-interest organization to fly its own mission will simply use the sail in controlled flight to increase our orbital energy.

We invite you to join with us and give your students, colleagues and friends to a chance to be part of Solar Sail Watch Team. Participation in the program can be for the serious amateurs or for the general public, it can be educational and informative, or just plain fun.

The sail launches (on a ballistic missile from a Russian submarine) into an approximately 800-kilometer, nearly circular orbit. The sails form a 30-meter diameter circular spacecraft of highly reflective material – which when pointed correctly will be as bright as the brightest star in the sky. Because of the near-polar orbit, everyone on Earth should see be able to see it sometime during the mission, although exact conditions for viewing depend on the spacecraft pointing, its position in its orbit, the Earth-Sun geometry, time of day and, of course, local weather conditions.

All of the necessary information is described on our web site, including a cooperative linkage we have with Heavens Above for providing viewing information.

Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, The Planetary Society has inspired millions of people to explore other worlds and seek other life. Today, its international membership makes the non-governmental Planetary Society the largest space interest group in the world. Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded The Planetary Society in 1980.

If you would like a complimentary solar sail poster to display, or if you would like to join our Solar Sail Watch Team, please contact Linda Wong at (626) 793-5100 or by email at linda.wong@planetary.org.

Thank you for your support.
With best wishes,

Louis D. Friedman
Executive Directo

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