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NanoSail-D to launch Friday, November 19, 2010

Launch of NanoSail-D is planned on Friday, November 19, 2010 from the Kodiak, Alaska, Launch Complex, and will deploy from NASA's FASTSAT. NanoSail-D will test deployment of a 10 square-meter (100 square-foot) solar sail from a 10x10x30 cm CubeSat. The mission will also test deorbit using the sail, because atmospheric drag at the low altitude will likely dominate light pressure. This is the backup spacecraft to the original NanoSail-D, which was lost when the Falcon-1 rocket it was on failed to reach orbit in 2008.

See Also

--Ben 10:13, 18 November 2010 (EST)

Second International Symposium on Solar Sailing Completed in Brooklyn, New York

The Second International Symposium on Solar Sailing ran from July 20-22, 2010, in Brooklyn, New York. The conference marked a remarkable step forward in the field of solar sailing. Several talks were given on Japan's IKAROS spacecraft, which was celebrated for demonstrating a solar sail spacecraft for the first time, and continues to sail on to Venus. Other talks described several small solar sail "nanosatellites" under development, which are planned to fly over the next few years. Other talks covered recent advances in understanding solar sail orbits, hybrid solar sail / solar electric missions, missions to test relativity, climate & weather observation, space weather, communications, alternative sail designs, and others. Refer to the conference website for abstracts, program, proceedings, and (coming soon) the presentations.

--Ben 14:58, 2 August 2010 (UTC)


--Ben 15:10, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

IKAROS Demonstrates Attitude Control with Solar Pressure

The IKAROS mission succeeded in steering using solar pressure. As the sail spins, liquid crystal devices along the edges change from reflective to non-reflective. Sunlight pushes harder on the reflective panels, so that one sail edge is pushed harder than the other, causing the sail to turn. Spacecraft like Mariner 10 have used solar pressure to point them before.

--Ben 14:45, 2 August 2010 (UTC)

IKAROS Acceleration by Solar Pressure Confirmed

Press release (English) Press release (Japanese)

JAXA confirmed that the IKAROS spacecraft has generated the expected acceleration from the pressure of sunlight. This effect has been predicted for over a century since James Clerk Maxwell's studies of electromagnetism. Every spacecraft flown since Sputnik has been affected, to varying degrees, by sunlight pushing on it. Several have used solar pressure to their advantage. This is the first time a spacecraft specifically designed to propel itself on sunlight - a true solar sail - has done so. Congratulations to the IKAROS team on their accomplishment! I look forward to seeing what else IKAROS will accomplish in the days to come.

See Also

--Ben 20:28, 9 July 2010 (UTC)

IKAROS Attitude Control System Imaged In Action (Press Release in Japanese) (Google translation to English)

JAXA's IKAROS project released images taken of the sail with the attitude control actuators active. The actuators consist of thin-film LCD panels along the edge of the sail which change reflectivity. While reflective, the panels reflect more sunlight and generate more thrust at the edge of the sail. While non-reflective, they generate less thrust. By phasing which side of the spinning sail is more or less reflective, they should be able to turn the sail. The images show the LCD panels alternating between reflective and non-reflective.

--Ben 19:53, 28 June 2010 (UTC)

LightSail-1 Passes Critical Design Review

LightSail-1, the Planetary Society's new ultra-light Cubesat-based solar sail spacecraft, has passed its Critical Design Review. At a two-day meeting in Pasadena, a team -- including JPL project veterans Bud Schurmeier, Glenn Cunningham, Viktor Kerzhanovich, and Aerospace Corporation's Dave Bearden -- reviewed the LightSail-1 project from soup to nuts and gave us the thumbs up to proceed with building the spacecraft's hardware and software.

--Ben 15:52, 28 June 2010 (UTC)

Images Taken of Fully Deployed IKAROS Solar Sail

A small camera with an antenna was ejected from the IKAROS solar sail spacecraft and took images of the fully deployed sail on June 16, 2010.

--Ben 17:30, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

IKAROS Solar Sail Deployment Successful

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency succeeded in deploying the IKAROS solar sail. Deployment began June 3rd 2010. On June 10th 2010, they confirmed that the sail was deployed. Congratulations to the IKAROS team!

--Ben 17:26, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

IKAROS Deployment Completed (Correction: Deployment Continuing)

The IKAROS Blog (Google translation to English) reports that the promary deployment of IKAROS has been completed, with a deployment length of 5.3m and deployed size of 10m from end to end.

See Also

--Ben 16:08, 4 June 2010 (UTC)

Correction: IKAROS deployment is still underway. The sail is being deployed in stages, with the state of the sail and spacecraft verified along the way. --Ben 15:32, 7 June 2010 (UTC)

First Stage of IKAROS Sail Deployment Completed

According to the IKAROS Blog, the sail deployment sequence has begun. There is a English press kit available, which shows the deployment sequence on page 7. Tip mass separation was completed previously. It now appears that the 1st stage of sail deployment has been completed: release of four strips of folded sail material. Final deployment is planned for tomorrow, where the folded sail material is released into the final square shape.

See Also

--Ben 17:46, 3 June 2010 (UTC)

IKAROS Deployment Beginning

The Planetary Society Blog reports that the cameras on the IKAROS spacecraft captured images of deployed tip masses on May 28, 2010, that will help hold the spinning sail flat once it is fully deployed. Deployment of the sail will occur soon.

See Also

--Ben 18:57, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

IKAROS Moves to Verification Experiment Stage

May 24, 2010 (JST)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) completed the initial check of the Small Solar Power Sail Demonstrator "IKAROS," which was launched on May 21, 2010 (Japan Standard Time,) from the Tanegashima Space Center. We will take a few weeks to carry out the first verification experiments, namely deployment of the solar sail and solar power generation by thin film solar cells.

See Also

--Ben 14:33, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

The Operation Status of the Small Solar Power Sail Demonstrator 'IKAROS'

May 22, 2010 (JST)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) acquired the signal transmitted from the IKAROS at the Usuda Deep Space Station and confirmed its solar power generation and stable posture, and established communications. We will turn on onboard devices one by one.

See Also

--Ben 13:22, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

AKATSUKI and IKAROS ready for launch

JAXA is preparing to launch AKATSUKI (Venus Climate Orbiter) and IKAROS on May 17, 2010, at 21:44:14 UTC (May 18 6:44:14am Japan Standard Time, May 17 5:44:14pm Eastern Standard Time). A live broadcast will begin 30 minutes prior to launch.

More coverage

--Ben 05:17, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

Mission Updates

  • Countdown Report - X-60 minute countdown began 4:44pm EST May 17. All systems go. --Ben 21:06, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Live coverage has begun --Ben 21:17, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Launch postponed due to weather conditions. --Ben 21:40, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
  • AKATSUKI and IKAROS launch delayed to May 20 21:58 UTC (May 21 6:58am JST, May 20 5:58pm EST) --Ben 12:51, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
  • 1 hr 24 minutes until the next launch attempt. 1 hour until live coverage begins. --Ben 20:34, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Live broadcast has started. 37 minutes to next launch attempt. --Ben 21:20, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
  • 10 minutes and counting --Ben 21:48, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Liftoff of IKAROS and Akatsuki! --Ben 21:59, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Payload fairing has separated. 1st and 2nd stage have separated. 2nd stage engine has ignited. --Ben 22:08, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
  • The second stage is in low Earth orbit (LEO) and has deployed 3 small satellites. --Ben 22:18, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
  • The second stage burn to inject Akatsuki and IKAROS on a trajectory to Venus has finished. Akatsuki has separated from the launch vehicle. --Ben 22:27, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Jettison of the support structure for Akatsuki which covers IKAROS is coming up, followed by separation of IKAROS from the 2nd stage. This update from Spaceflight Now. --Ben 22:39, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
  • IKAROS has separated from the launch vehicle. Congratulations to the IKAROS team on a successful launch! --Ben 22:45, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

JAXA releases detailed video overview of the IKAROS mission

JAXA has released a detailed video describing all aspects of the IKAROS mission and spacecraft on YouTube. The video is in Japanese, but should be easy to follow for non-Japanese speakers.

--Ben 15:50, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

UK firm plans sails to clean up space

Researchers at the Surrey Space Center and EADS Astrium are working on a 5x5 meter solar sail nanosatellite called Cubesail, planned for launch in 2011, to demonstrate removal of debris from Earth orbit.

Other coverage

--Ben 18:35, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

AKATSUKI and IKAROS open to the media

The media was invited to view the AKATSUKI and IKAROS spacecraft. IT Media has several pictures of the two spacecraft.

--Ben 18:13, 15 March 2010 (UTC)


--Ben 14:26, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

Launch date of the Venus Climate Orbiter "AKATSUKI", carrying the IKAROS solar sail, set for May 18, 2010

The Venus Climate Orbiter "AKATSUKI" (Planet-C), carrying the IKAROS solar power sail demonstrator, is scheduled to launch on an H-IIA launch vehicle on May 18, 2010, at 6:44:14 AM from Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center.

--Ben 19:53, 5 March 2010 (UTC)

The Second International Symposium on Solar Sailing (ISSS 2010) will be held July 20-22, 2010, at the New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York

"The symposium will focus on recent advances in solar sailing technologies and near-term solar sailing missions. The topics to be addressed include dynamics analysis and testing of solar sails, advanced materials and structural concepts of solar sails, space environmental effects and a solar spacecraft protection, solar spacecraft charging, enabling technologies, concepts, dynamics, navigation, control, modeling, mission applications, and programs."

--Ben 22:39, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

The Planetary Society: Solar Sailing Messages from Earth

Submit your name and a message to fly on LightSail or IKAROS --Ben 17:02, 31 December 2009 (UTC)

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center: NASA and Contractor Team Develop One Fast Satellite

FASTSAT-HSV01 (Fast, Affordable Science and Technology Satellite) is the first of a series of small satellite platforms intended to carry multiple small instruments and experiments at low cost on a variety of launch vehicles. NanoSail-D, previously attempted on a Falcon-1 test flight, is one of the initial experiments of this new satellite platform. --Ben 16:55, 10 December 2009 (UTC)

Spaceflight Now: Two solar sailing trials readied for launch next year

Article about the IKAROS and LightSail 1 missions planned for launch in 2010. --Ben 15:55, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

ABC News picked this item up.

Planetary Society planning 3-mission solar sail project

The Planetary Society announced the project LightSail to fly three solar sails of increasing size and complexity over the next several years. An anonymous donor provided funding for the missions, which will begin with LightSail-1, a 3-meter square sail deployed from a 10x10x30cm Cubesat. This is similar to NASA's NanoSail-D. LightSail-2 will be larger and have increased sailing ability out of Earth orbit. LightSail-3 is intended to sail to the sun-Earth L1 Lagrange point to demonstrate solar wind monitoring for geomagnetic storm forecasting. The Planetary Society previously attempted to test fly a solar sail in the Cosmos 1 mission.

Other coverage:

--Ben 15:15, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

More coverage:

--Ben 15:59, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Even more coverage:

--Chris 11:55, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

IKAROS papers presented at the 27th International Symposium on Space Technology and Science

Several papers on the IKAROS solar sail mission and Japan's solar sail research in general were presented at the 27th International Symposium on Space Technology and Science and made available. Links to these papers are available on the IKAROS page. --Ben 15:11, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

Space Politics: A call for reviving NIAC

Space Politics story on a report by the National Research Council on the effectiveness of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC). The report recommends resinstatment of the program. NIAC, closed in 2007, funded revolutionary aeronautics and space concepts, including solar sails and related technologies. --Ben 19:59, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

Crunch Gear: They now use solar technology to propel satellites

Crunch Gear story on JAXA's IKAROS solar sail project. Also see JAXA's Japanese language summary of the project:

--Ben 20:02, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

The Times Online: 'Sailing' spacecraft could keep watch on Earth's polar regions

A Times Online story about polar observation and space weather applications of solar sails in artificial Lagrange orbits from a talk by Prof. Colin R. McInnes at the British Science Festival in Guildford. --Ben 14:30, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

Update: The Guardian also carried the story:

--Ben 19:28, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

StarTalk Radio Show: What's Exploration Worth?

StarTalk page. Louis Friedman, director of the Planetary Society, joins Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye to discuss the value of space exploration. Solar sails are discussed at about the 46 minute mark. --Ben 17:55, 9 September 2009 (UTC)

Discover: The Elegant Way to Save Earth From Asteroid Destruction

Discover blog. Discussion about using gravity tractors to deflect asteroids, including Prof. Bong Wie's proposal to use solar sails as the tractors. --Ben 15:35, 8 September 2009 (UTC)

MIT Technology Review: the physics arXiv blog: Relativistic Navigation Needed for Solar Sails

MIT Technology Review blog page. Discussion about the challenges of navigating a solar sail on a high speed escape from the solar system due to relativistic effects. --Ben 14:13, 8 September 2009 (UTC) First Solar Sail Might Soon Fly article. Story about the possible flight of NASA's spare NanoSail-D sail as a Planetary Society project. --Ben 14:31, 12 August 2009 (UTC) Ann Druyan: How to Sail Beyond the Moon Landings article. Ann Druyan discusses the future of space exploration, including solar sailing. --Ben 19:36, 13 July 2009 (UTC) Promising New Space Engines are Opening the Solar System

ESA video on advanced propulsion: "Electric ion engines; plasma drives, slingshot-style gravitational-assist maneuvers; ultra-light super-strong solar sails and other innovations are driving exploration forward beyond reliance on chemical rockets." --Ben 12:00, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

The Atlantic: Across the Universe

An article about The Planetary Society's efforts to fly another solar sail demonstration mission - Cosmos 2. Their previous attempt, Cosmos 1, suffered a launch vehicle failure. --Ben 12:00, 5 May 2009 (UTC)

Solar Sail Update: New Opportunities

Update on The Planetary Society's solar sail activities. From Space Travel. Also see: The Planetary Society --Ben 12:00, 3 April 2009 (UTC)

Review of Solar Sails: A Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel

Review of the book posted on The Space Review. SolarSailWiki article: Solar Sails: A Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel --Ben 12:00, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

MESSENGER to flyby Mercury 2nd time October 6th

MESSENGER Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab page. MESSENGER used solar pressure to correct the trajectory without using propellant. The multimedia page shows how solar sailing reduced the flyby target size. --Ben 12:00, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

MESSENGER Sails on Sun's Fire for Second Flyby of Mercury

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab press release. --Ben 12:00, 5 September 2008 (UTC)