The Planetary Society disclosed on early Monday morning that Carl Sagan’s solar sailing technology will be tested on May 20.
The late astronomer and science communicator, Carl Sagan has dedicated his entire life to science experiments that could facilitate NASA’s space exploration works.
His masterpiece remains the solar sailing technology, which will be tested at the end of the month, on May 20.
The Planetary Society, the non-governmental organization that Sagan founded during his life, revealed the press on Monday afternoon that the solar sail will be launched into space for the first time.
The experiment is meant to test whether solar panels-based spacecraft can last when sent into space.
Carl Sagan was an inventor whose major goal was to find new and affordable resources for space exploration.
His lifetime works were primarily centered on the development of solar-based technology that could allow spaceships to travel longer distances through space.
His plans have come to life now that the Planetary Society has finally managed to create a sail using Sun’s energy.
The solar-powered craft called “LightSail”, no bigger than a loaf of bread, functions according to the flight-by-light propulsion concept. This means the spacecraft uses sun waves to travel through space the same way sails use wind waves.
Even though the technology is now going through its testing phase, scientists are convinced the solar propulsion will soon be featured on most spaceships. According to this new space travel mechanization, spaceships fly through space using light photons.
LightSail is also innovative because it was purposefully constructed to reuse its fuel and thus, reduce consumption costs. Scientists estimate that the spaceship will be easily maneuvered thanks to its advanced technology.
The solar spacecraft is made out of three CubeSats, whose measures are not bigger than 30x10x10.
The solar panels were attached on the sides of the spaceship. They are expected to unfold into triangular shaped wings constructed out of mylar films.
The first test flight of LightSail will take place on May 20. The solar sail will be sent to an Atlas V rocket to determine whether it can be perform regular space tasks.
Scientists realize the experiment on May 20 will not be very conclusive as the solar sail won’t reach an orbit with sun photons. Yet, the test per se is a major accomplishment for the Planetary Society as the new technology can help reduce space travel costs, which represent the main barrier against further science discoveries.
The solar sail experiment has a total cost of $4.5 million, a small amount compared to the previous financial investments that have been made in the domain.
Image Source: New Scientist
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