Japan to Launch ‘Space Yacht’ Propelled by Solar Sail

Shigeru Sato and Stuart Biggs of bloomberg writes:

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency plans to launch the world’s first satellite powered by a giant solar sail to demonstrate next-generation renewable-energy technology, the agency said today.

The 20-meter (66-foot) sail, which cost about 1.5 billion yen ($16 million), will be wrapped around the “space yacht” during liftoff and will unfurl once the craft leaves the Earth’s atmosphere, JAXA said. The Ikaros will be launched by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Japan’s biggest heavy-machinery maker, from Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan on May 18, the agency said.

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