Status Report

COSMOS 1 Solar Sail Test Flight Update – July 21, 2001

By SpaceRef Editor
July 23, 2001
Filed under ,

The Planetary Society

The Cosmos 1 test spacecraft was successfully launched Friday from a submerged
Russian submarine, but the final command to separate the spacecraft from the
rocket was not executed. As a result, neither the solar sail deployment test nor
the re-entry capsule inflation sequence that were planned for this sub-orbital
test flight were carried out. The spacecraft and the unseparated capsule
continued together to impact in Kamchatka.

Telemetry from the launch vehicle indicated the separation failure. The Makeev
Rocket Design Bureau engineers are analyzing the data to determine exactly what
happened and why.

The capsule recovery team stationed in Kamchatka, which includes representatives
from the Babakin Space Center, the Institute for Space Research (IKI) and
Makeev, is reported to have observed the re-entry. Makeev is now responsible for
locating the probably destroyed capsule and spacecraft in Kamchatka.

A very preliminary examination of the rocket telemetry data in Russia indicates
that the separation command was terminated by an on-board fail-safe program
because dynamic variations were sensed in the third stage. The launch vehicle
was pre-programmed to override the separation command in the presence of dynamic
variation. These variations would not have affected the Cosmos 1 test spacecraft
performance or its recovery. This possibility is being examined further.

Earlier today Project Director Louis Friedman of The Planetary Society met in
Moscow with project personnel from Babakin Space Center and the Space Research
Institute to assess the situation.

Planetary Society President Bruce Murray noted that this suborbital test
fulfilled important technological and program objectives, such as:

1. Preflight testing and integration of a new solar sail spacecraft by the
Babakin Space Center and the Makeev Rocket Bureau,

2. Integration and launch of that spacecraft by the Russian Navy using the Volna
launch vehicle,

3. Integrated tracking and analysis by various Russian organizations including
IKI, Babakin and the Russian Navy,

4. Effective participation and overview by The Planetary Society and its project
sponsor, Cosmos Studios.

"I am quite impressed with how well the US – Russian team, involving non-profit
and commercial organizations, and relying heavily on Russian military and
civilian organizational support, worked together effectively and harmoniously in
this test, " said Bruce Murray, President of The Planetary Society. "I am
optimistic that we can keep on schedule to launch Cosmos 1, the first solar sail
spacecraft, later this year."

SpaceRef staff editor.