Press Release

Cosmos 1 Solar Sail Unfurls One of its 47-foot Blades at Centennial of Flight in NYC

By SpaceRef Editor
July 28, 2003
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Solar Sail Blade Gives Public a First Look at Future Space Flight Technology

Pasadena, CA – The Planetary Society and Cosmos Studios will unfold a replica of one of the eight 47-foot blades that make up the Cosmos 1 Solar Sail spacecraft, which is slated to launch later this year.  The silvery mylar-like blade will be on display in New York City as part of a large Rockefeller Center  “Centennial of Flight” exhibit.  The exhibit is from July 29 – August 18.  Suspended from the soaring lobby ceiling, the blade will give the public their first-ever opportunity to see a technology that will likely fly missions throughout the solar system and to the stars.

A joint venture of The Planetary Society and Cosmos Studios, the Cosmos 1 Solar Sail is a visionary approach to space exploration.  This is the first space mission ever conducted by a space interest group, and also the first by an entertainment media company.

“During the early 20th Century humanity found its wings above the sands of Kitty Hawk.   Cosmos 1 represents the next centennial of flight, which will take us and our robotic emissaries from Earth to Mars, Pluto and beyond,” said Dr. Louis Friedman, Cosmos 1 Project Director and Executive Director of The Planetary Society.

“That a century after the Wright Bros.’ first flight, it is still possible for a small group of people with modest means to reach for the stars, is a good sign that the American dream remains vibrant,” said Ann Druyan, Cosmos 1 Program Director and CEO of Cosmos Studios. “Our launch vehicle, a Russian ICBM, has been converted from a weapon of mass destruction into a means of advancing the dream of exploring the universe.  In this way, we hope to honor the inspiration of Carl Sagan and to give our kids a critically needed vision of a hopeful future.”

Solar sailing utilizes reflected light pressure pushing on giant panels, which adjust to the continuously changing orbital energy and spacecraft velocity.  The sunlight pressure is powerful enough to push spacecraft between the planets.  Beyond the solar system, space sailing can be done using powerful lasers focused over long distances in space.  Solar sails might help us realize the long-sought dream of interstellar flight.

Other exhibits at the Centennial of Flight Anniversary will include a full-scale model of the Redstone Mercury rocket, a replica of Apollo 13, a model of the Wright Flyer, an X-43C (NASA’s prototype of the SCRAM JET engine), among other exhibits.

Cosmos 1 Solar Sail is a privately funded project with scientific and commercial applications that involve the cooperation of Russian space and defense organizations through a contract with The Planetary Society.  The sail blade model being exhibited in part was developed by the Babakin Space Center near Moscow, Russia. 

Babakin Space Center is the prime contractor for Cosmos 1.  Babakin is a spin-off organization of NPO Lavochkin, one of the largest manufacturers of robotic spacecraft in the world.  The Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Makeev Rocket Design Bureau also play major roles in project development.  Makeev is responsible for development of the Volna rocket – which will launch Cosmos 1 – and has made arrangements with the Russian Navy for the launch.

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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 125 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 will be posted on The Planetary Society’s website at http://planetary.org.
 
About Cosmos Studios:

Founded in the year 2000, by CEO Ann Druyan, company President Kent Gibson and Joe Firmage, Cosmos Studios seeks to build on the legacy of Dr. Carl Sagan by supporting ground breaking 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 early sponsorship of the SETI@home project, whose several 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 which have already added to our understanding of life in the universe , and its commitment to create science-based entertainment events,including “Cosmic Journey: The Story of the Voyager Interstellar Mission and Message” and “Cosmic Africa”, a stunning saga of one man’s journey to reconcile his knowledge of science with the spirituality of our ancestors, books and the development of  original approaches to curricula for students of all ages. Check out http://carlsagan.com and http://solarsail.org for more information on Cosmos Studios projects.

SpaceRef staff editor.