Japan’s Ikaros solar sail takes shape

As Japan gears up to send the first working solar sail into deep space in a couple of months, the Planetary Society is moving ahead with its own solar-sail project. You can put your name on both sails … if you act now.

Sunday is the deadline for adding your name to the list for Japan’s Ikaros spacecraft, due to piggyback on the May 18 launch of the Venus-bound Akatsuki orbiter aboard a Japanese H-2A rocket.

More than 25,000 people have signed up already using the Planetary Society’s “Sail Away” Web page – and when those are added to the Japanese list, the tally goes up to 60,000 names.

The Planetary Society also sees its LightSail mission as the first of a set. A chart for the mission program suggests that mission planners are working toward a flight in 2015 that would boost LightSail-3 beyond Earth orbit to the L1 gravitational balance point between Earth and the sun. That’s about 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometers) away.

Complete article at: msn.com

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