World’s first solar powered sail spacecraft takes your message to space
The Japanese Space agency has recently unveiled IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated By Radiation of the Sun). This spacecraft is supposed to be the world’s first solar powered sail spacecraft. It is actually a solar sail which uses thin film of solar cells as well as photon propulsion for energy generation. The square shaped sail spacecraft has a diagonal distance of 20 m. It will navigate its course in space with the help of this ultra thin membrane. However, the most interesting thing about this project is that it will let interested people record their names and messages on a DVD which will be loaded into the IKAROS and sent to revolve around Venus.
The IKAROS is scheduled to be launched on the 18th of May together with the Venus Climate Orbiter AKATSUKI using launch vehicle H-IIA. The IKAROS is surely an energy efficient way to study the stars and planets.