Thequest to conquer space has kept space researchers working on figuringout new ways to fuel their crafts for a longer duration. However, thetechnology is often limited by the amount of fuel necessary to poweraircraft to distant locations. The Planetary Society has announced a breakthrough in solar sailing with the development of a spacecraft dubbed LightSail-1.
Thespacecraft will be launched in 2010 and will be propelled solely bysolar sails. LightSail-1 won’t carry a single drop of fuel and willtravel through space using the energy contained within the sun’s rays.The craft features four triangle-shaped aluminized Mylar sails thatcapture the momentum of light emitted by the sun and use the energy topropel the craft further into space.
Weighingabout 11 pounds, the LightSail-1 carries sails, which when opened span6 meters across. The initial design will stay close to Earth, travelingonly a few miles on the energy, after being deployed 500 miles abovethe surface of the planet. However, the developers are hoping thatfuture missions will sail further.