July 22, 2010

Maybe you missed it, but Japan successfully launched the world's first solar sail craft a couple months ago. I know I missed it. I was just looking at Wikipedia for info about solar sails, remembering the disappointment of the Planetary Society's Cosmos 1 in 2005 and thinking that surely they'd tried something since then. I don't know how I missed it, but JAXA has already successfully launched a solar sail to Venus that demonstrated the ability to change attitude by adjusting LEDs on the sail instead of physically tilting the sail.


  • At the peak of my father's career, he bought a 27-foot sailboat and dragged the family to the marina every weekend. My most vivid memory of the time involved ducking under a fast-moving yardarm during a tacking maneuver. I'm happy that Solar Sailors don't have to deal with that.
  • Yessssssssss! *pumps fist* I've always been enthused about solar sails since I read Cordwainer Smith's 'The Lady Who Sailed The Soul" as a kid. Story here. More SciFi solar sails
  • I had always understood that there was no ambient light in outer space, because no air to diffuse it. So this does look authentic, I think.