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Bon Voyage

In just under four hours Cosmos-1, the first solar sailer mankind has ever launched on a controlled flight, will launch from a submarine in the Barents Sea. The main link is being hammered, so I refer you to this Space.com story. Cosmos-1 may well be visible as its large sail array catches the sunlight in polar orbit 500 miles (800km) above the earth. You can find out when it will be in your sky at Heavens Above. And if you want a closer look you can print and build a scale model of Cosmos-1.

Correction: I called Cosmos-1 the first solar sailer mankind has ever built, but that's not correct. Japan and Russia have both built and launched solar sails in preliminary, uncontrolled, tests.

Update: There's no good news yet for Cosmos-1. Its signal has not been received for a while and radar scans were not successful, but nothing is conclusive yet. If it's on the expected flight path the craft will pass ovre a ground station after midnight and with luck they'll find it then. Cross your fingers!

Update: As of 1:11AM EDT (5:11AM UT) they still have received no direct telemetry data from Cosmos-1 and its fate is unknown.

Update: 2:23AM EDT (6:23AM UT): The Cosmos-1 crew believe they have a signal. Keep those fingers crossed!

Final update: Cosmos-1 crashed due to a failed booster. I don't know what signal they found last night. Perhaps they meant they'd found a trace of a signal from earlier in the day. Oh, well. Try and try again.


Neat! Thanks for the heads up. I've bookmarked the times for our area and will try to get a look in the next few days (when the sails have opened).

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