Posting in Technology
JAXA will soon launch its Ikaros vessel into deep space, testing the fuel-free possibilities of space travel.
If I were to create a solar-fueled spacecraft, I wouldn't name it after Icarus, the ancient mythological Greek who plummeted to his death after flying too close to the sun.
Instead, the vessel's solar sail, made from polyimide resin, is equipped with ultra-thin film solar cells, an altitude control device and observation sensors.
On Tuesday, JAXA's space system expert Yuichi Tsuda told journalists:
Solar sails are the technology that realizes space travel without fuel as long as we have sunlight. The availability of electricity would enable us to navigate farther and more effectively in the solar system.
Ikaros' 46-foot square sail is only 0.0075 millimeters wide in some places. Tsuda explains that the sun's radiation will propel Ikaros via the pressure placed on the sail as well as provide the vessel with electricity. JAXA intends to steer the craft by angling the way solar particles hit the sail. Ikaros stands for Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun.
On May 18th, the $16-million vessel will ascend into space from the Tanegashima Space Center.
On the same rocket taking Ikaros to outer space will be Akatsuki, another craft with a mission for Venus. JAXA's plans over the next decades are ambitious and include building the first space station on the moon equipped with wheeled robots.
Apr 28, 2010
Hi razzamatazzer, The plan is for Ikaros to deploy the solar membrane/sail once it is already in space. A rocket launcher (H-IIA) will bring it there (along with Akatsuki). I, too, was wondering about the thin sail's durability over the course of the mission though. --Melissa
Wouldn't this burn up when trying to get past the gravity stage?Also,doesn't it take "momentum" to get past the gravity stage?...just my thoughts.
If they could have found a project name that could have been reduced to "Daedalus", all would be well. From most accounts, Daedalus succeeded in the attempt; his son, Icarus, would have, too. If he had only listened to the elder's counsel. Wisdom of ages prevailed over youthful exuberance. Refer to the MIT project Daedalus, in which the distinction was correctly observed by the naming committee. I was proud to be part of the science/engineering team that put that together, so many years ago. See http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2008/daedalus-0422.html
since we have recently canned our man on the moon missions... It would be a lot cheaper to work with Japan to get the moon station operational.