Solar Sail Test


Registered Senior Member
The Planetary Organization is planning a test of the solar sail that has been delayed because of an error. The model craft was damaged when testing some of the circuits and has now been repaired. Following is an artist conception of the solar sail deployed in orbit.

It is scheduled to fly sometime between October and December. The 88 pound model will be put into orbit at a height of 530 miles. There are two cameras mounted at the edge of the blades to give live views such as the one in the drawing. It is set to be launched from the Bering Sea by a Russian Sub. (As seen in the following illustration)

Solar sail

And a decent way for the Russians to reduce their submarine ballistic missiles while making a few bucks ... and a whole lot cheaper for the Planetary Organization.
Dumb question ...

How do you stop the damned thing once you've gotten to where you're going?
Stick your foot out and drag it?

Actually in one design, the main sail has a large hole in the center. Closer in and down the shrouds rests another sail without a hole. The light comes from the source you are headed to while the back of the main sail is dark in color and absorbs rather than reflecting. For those destinations not being a light source, planetary braking is the method. For tacking the planetary org. design looks kind of like a flower with pedals. These pedals are able to turn on it's axis allowing light to come from the side and catch the sail.

actually, the tests around going as good as planned:

Solar sail experiment lost due to launcher problem
Officials analyzing data from this week's test flight of a solar sail demonstrator have confirmed that the third stage of the Volna rocket failed to separate from the spacecraft. That left the inflatable re-entry shield and the two solar sail blades unable to deploy, dooming the mission.

read more at:
I'm in the Planetary Society . . . it didn't go too well, but we're not giving up. It was a problem with the Volna.