On June 21, 2005, scientists from the United States and Russia attempted to launch the world's first solar sail spacecraft: Cosmos-1. A solar sail uses radiation pressure from stars to push satellites and spacecraft into orbit. A rocket failure prevented Cosmos-1 from reaching orbit.

 

Many scientists think solar sail propulsion could reduce the cost of many space projects. The technology applies to both orbital and longer-distance spaceflight. Solar sails could also extend the lifetime use of a craft. JAXA, the Japanese space agency, launched the world’s first successful solar sail spacecraft, IKAROS, in 2010.

Verb

to move in a circular pattern around a more massive object.

propulsion
Noun

movement caused by force.

radiation
Noun

energy, emitted as waves or particles, radiating outward from a source.

reduce
Verb

to lower or lessen.

rocket
Noun

device that moves through the atmosphere by release of expanding gas.

satellite
Noun

object that orbits around something else. Satellites can be natural, like moons, or made by people.

spacecraft
Noun

vehicle designed for travel outside Earth's atmosphere.

technology
Noun

the science of using tools and complex machines to make human life easier or more profitable.