Japan Launches Sun-Powered Space Yacht
The IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun) mission aims at verifying that a spacecraft can fly only by solar powered sail, and that thin film solar cells can generate power.
Early Friday morning, May 21, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched its H-IIA rocket carrying the Venus climate orbiter "Akatsuki."
Once in space, the probe will be powered by an innovative, kite-shaped "space yacht" known as IKAROS.
The sunlight-propelled sail and its probe are expected to reach the orbit of Venus by December 2010, where they will circle the planet for two years, collecting data on its climate.
Its actual orbit will be moving between the orbits of Venus and that of the Earth.
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