Press Release

Important Solar Sail Message to All Planetary Society Members

By SpaceRef Editor
January 29, 2003
Filed under ,

Dear Member,

It is ambitious and audacious . . . incredibly risky,
and imminently practical . . . boldly far-sighted,
and yet also one of the most long-overdue and
sensible experiments in the history of human

“It” is Cosmos 1, the Solar Sail Mission – the
joint venture of The Planetary Society and Cosmos
Studios that we first unveiled almost two years ago.
And in just a few months – we hope no later than the
middle of 2003 – it could finally be reality!

It is an extraordinary vision. . .one almost within
our grasp. But not quite yet. Vexing technical
difficulties with the launch vehicle in this incredibly
complex undertaking have significantly expanded
our work and stretched our schedule. It means more
testing, more analysis, more personnel, more
travel . . . and more costs! In fact, approximately
$100,000 in additional expenses.

These recent difficulties have also made us acutely
aware of the risk of orbit insertion – the critical
sequence from payload separation to the completion
of firing the orbit injection motor.

This is also the time when communications with the
spacecraft is most difficult and most in danger of
being lost. We cannot afford to be blind, and so
we need to take extra steps to increase
reliability and capacity.

— First, we need to expand our communications

capabilities at the Project Operations facility
here at Society headquarters in Pasadena.

— Second, we must add a portable ground station
to track the critical orbit insertion maneuver
which takes place over the Pacific Ocean
near Kamchatka.

— Third, we’ll need to increase ground-tracking
capability by using U.S. stations with near-real-time
communications to our mission operations.

These steps are essential. They involve both
hardware acquisition and additional technical
support for the project.

Aside from this, our technical progress is good.
All parts of the spacecraft are delivered and
integrated testing (the last stop before final
assembly) is underway. We are producing a first-rate
spacecraft for our venture.

This technology could pave the way to the farthest
reaches of our solar system, and beyond. Solar
sailing is the only technique now known that could
make interstellar flight possible.

It may well turn out to be one of our most enduring
legacies, yours and mine.

The hurdles before us are not insurmountable;
every problem can be solved. It just takes patience
and commitment . . . and your enduring partnership
– both financial and as a fellow visionary.

Please send whatever you can afford through the
Donations page on our website at:
The clock is ticking, the costs are mounting . . .
we need to keep moving!

Thank you.


Louis Friedman
Executive Director

P.S. If you haven’t received it already, you will
probably be getting a letter about this in the mail.
If you would prefer making a donation to support
Cosmos 1, the Solar Sail Mission, through standard mail,
please feel free to use the response envelope we’ve
included with your letter.

SpaceRef staff editor.