Press Release

Cosmos 1 Passes Test Milestone: Solar Sail Blade Is Deployed in Vacuum Chamber

By SpaceRef Editor
July 15, 2002
Filed under ,

The Planetary Society’s and Cosmos Studios’ Cosmos 1 project passed a major
milestone this week with the successful deployment of a solar sail blade in
flight configuration in a vacuum chamber test at NPO Lavochkin in Khimki,
Russia.

The 15-meter solar sail blade deployed to its full length in the 12
meter-vacuum chamber at NPO Lavochkin in Khimki, Russia. The deployment
tested a redesigned blade packing scheme, which folded – rather than rolled
– the blade and its inflatable tube frame.

“The blade deployed from the new configuration very smoothly,” said Project
Manager Victor Kudryashov from Babakin Center. “We will, of course,
continue to analyze the test data.” He added that the Babakin Space
Center engineers, responsible for the spacecraft and sail development,
“believe they have a design that will work and they are ready to implement
it for flight.”

Ecliptic Enterprises of Pasadena, CA provided space-qualified cameras in
the vacuum chamber to videotape the test. The video can be viewed on the
Planetary Society web site, http://planetary.org. The website for Ecliptic
Enterprises is http://www.eclipticenterprises.com.

“Seeing that four-story-long blade deploy in vacuum was a thrill,” said
Louis Friedman, Executive Director of The Planetary Society and the Cosmos
1 Project Director. “Still ahead of us is the extraordinary adventure and
drama of unfurling the sail in the zero gravity conditions of orbit.”

A number of tests have recently been completed on the spacecraft mechanical
model. Much of the focus is now shifting to the electronics testing, which
is about to begin under the direction of the Space Research Institute (IKI)
of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Launch of Cosmos 1 is planned for late this year, although a launch date
will not be chosen until after system testing has begun. The spacecraft
will launch from a Russian submarine on a Volna rocket using a new orbit
insertion motor to put the spacecraft into an approximately 800-kilometer
circular orbit.

“The spacecraft is far more capable than the one we had originally
planned,” Friedman noted. “Much more redundancy and capability have been
built into it.”

The Babakin – IKI group is preparing a spacecraft that they hope will have
many applications after the Cosmos 1 project.

“We believe this basic spacecraft design could even serve as an
interplanetary spacecraft, for example a mission to Mars,” said Dr.
Viacheslav Linkin, Chief Scientist on the project.

“This is precisely the dream we had in mind when we funded this mission,”
said Cosmos Studios CEO Ann Druyan, “to support the development of a whole
new mode of space exploration.”

Cosmos Studios has also gathered support for this mission from the
television network, A&E, and philanthropist Peter Lewis.

LIVE: Web Camera Viewing Inside Russian Test Area

Cameras connected to the Internet are now installed within test facilities
at Tarusa, the engineering facility where the spacecraft’s electronics are
being assembled and tested. These web cameras allow the public to view
tests of flight sensors, instruments and the on-board computer. The web
cameras operate on a part-time basis on the Society’s web site,
http://planetary.org.

-o0o-

Photos of the tests of Cosmos 1 are available at http://planetary.org.

A television documentary produced by Cosmos Studios will be shown
exclusively on A&E after the project launch.

About The Planetary Society:

The Planetary Society is headquartered in Pasadena, California, U.S.A. The
organization was co-founded by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman
in 1980 to advance the exploration of the solar system, and to continue the
search for extraterrestrial life. With members in over 140 countries, the
Society is the largest space interest group in the world. In addition to
the Cosmos 1 solar sail, The Planetary Society conducts and supports
numerous projects and activities, including the popular SETI@home
distributed computing project and other searches for extraterrestrial
intelligence, Red Rover Goes to Mars, and grants for astronomers searching
for Near Earth Objects. The latest solar sail information is posted on The
Planetary Society’s website at http://planetary.org. For more information,
contact Susan Lendroth at (626) 793-5100 ext. 237 or by e-mail at
susan.lendroth@planetary.org.

About Cosmos Studios:

Founded by CEO Ann Druyan and company President Kent Gibson, Cosmos Studios
seeks to build on the legacy of Dr. Carl Sagan by supporting groundbreaking
scientific research, clean high technology and bold exploration – and
engaging the widest possible audience in the romance of the adventure. Some
of the ways Cosmos Studios is doing this are through its updating and
presentation of the landmark COSMOS television series and its broadcast and
re-issue on home video and DVD; its proud sponsorship of the SETI@home
project, whose three million participants are actively engaged in the
analysis of radio telescope data gathered in the scientific search for
extraterrestrial civilizations; its support of scientific expeditions,
including one that recently resulted in the discovery of a new genus of
dinosaur; its creative alliances with the A&E Television Network and Random
House to create science-based entertainment events, books
and accompanying curricula for students of all ages. Check out
http://carlsagan.com for more information on Cosmos Studios
projects. Contact Brian Hershey at (818) 501-0700, or by e-mail at
bhershey@ssapr.com.

About A&E Network:

Winner of the 2000 Governors Award from The Academy of Television Arts &
Sciences for The Biography Project for Schools and the prestigious Peabody
Award for “The Crossing,” A&E offers viewers a unique blend of original
programming, including original movies and drama series, as well as
documentaries. Recently, A&E signed an exclusive and extensive marketing
and programming co-development and co-production relationship with Cosmos
Studios. The relationship will feature a wide range of consumer and
educational media offerings, as well as groundbreaking and informative
specials for the Network. The first of the specials, “The Lost Dinosaurs of
Egypt,” will air on A&E on October 8, 2002. A&E is available in more than
85 million Nielsen homes in the United States. The A&E web site is located
at www.AandE.com.

SpaceRef staff editor.