Monday, October 27, 2003

Cosmos 1 is on track to be the first attempt at a solar sail deployment next year. Why is this a private-US-Russian project instead of a NASA project? The article suggests "risk", but how much risk is there in a $4 million investment? In aerospace terms, that's pocket change - worse, pocketlint. I don't quite understand how it could possibly be $4 million - I thought orbital insertion was more expensive than that. This less-than-authorative-sounding site claims that Soyuz launches have a base cost of $15 million, which makes me suspect that the $4 million is for the package itself, and not the delivery fee. Even then, $4 million is insanely cheap.

It might just be that this Cosmos 1 isn't NASA because it isn't going to work. Possibly something to do with trying to deploy a solar sail in Earth orbit will result in more atmospheric braking than the lift from the expected solar wind? The article indicates that they're going to try to deploy at 800km. I suppose somebody with a proper science background could try and do the calculations...

Via The Daily Blatt.

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