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http://A solar-powered spacecraft appears to have failed in its first mission.http://Scientists in California tra...icked up signals from the experimental craft.
A solar-powered spacecraft appears to have failed in its first mission. Scientists in California tracking Cosmos 1 after its launch in Russia said they had not picked up signals from the experimental craft.

However, project director Louis Friedman has refused to give up hope, and said that some weak data had been detected.

The privately-funded craft, launched from the Barents Sea, was burdened with the task of revolutionising space travel as its huge sails were powered by the sun rather than a craft relying on engines.

A Volnar booster rocket launched the unmanned spacecraft from a submerged submarine.

Many scientists claim that the impact from a constant stream of photons, particles of light, bouncing off a huge sail can impel a craft through frictionless space at an ever-increasing rate of speed.

If their theory is proven correct, such spacecract might ultimately be able to travel to distant stars using sunlight as their only fuel.

The project started as a dream held by Planetary Society founders Carl Sagan, the late science fiction writer, and Louis Friedman, who proposed sending a solar sail craft to rendezvous with Halley's Comet in the 1970s when he worked at NASA.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the need to find commercial uses for Russia's long-range missiles helped Cosmos 1 get off the drawing board three decades later.

The project was funded mainly by an entertainment company run by Mr Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, and by contributions from Planetary Society members and philanthropist Peter Lewis.

Each sail on Cosmos 1 is made up of eight triangular blades whose combined structure looks like a disk.

The reflective sails are about 5 microns thick - about one-quarter of the thickness of a plastic bag.

From News