We are not sailing

2019-03-06 10:06:25

By Jeff Hecht AN ATTEMPT to unfurl an experimental “solar sail” on the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere ended in disaster last weekend when a software error stopped the sail separating from its launcher. They crashed in Russia. Despite the failure, the Planetary Society, which funded the sail, and the Russian design bureau Cosmos Studios may go ahead and deploy a full-size sail in space. “I am optimistic that we can keep on schedule to launch Cosmos 1, the first solar-sail spacecraft, later this year,” said Bruce Murray, president of the Planetary Society. Solar sails are large,