Headlines > News > Questions Cloud Launch of Cosmos 1 Solar Sail Spacecraft

Questions Cloud Launch of Cosmos 1 Solar Sail Spacecraft

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Tue Jun 21, 2005 10:40 pm
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By Leonard David, Mission managers for a private-built solar sail spacecraft admit that all is not going as planned with their flight, the state of which is unclear despite a jubilant launch earlier Tuesday.

“This is not what we’d hoped to have happen,” said Bruce Murray, co-founder of the space advocacy group Planetary Society in charge of the mission. “Negative news is not good news. On the other hand we do not have direct evidence for failure.”

The Planetary Society’s Cosmos 1 spacecraft launched skyward atop a converted Cold War-era intercontinental ballistic missile, shot skyward at about 3:46 p.m. EDT (1946 GMT) from its Russian nuclear submarine launch pad positioned beneath the Barents Sea.

But with some apparently conflicting telemetry and hints that their solar sail spacecraft might be on track, the actual state of Cosmos 1 is unclear.

“We just don’t know anything for sure,”said Emily Lakdawalla, Project Operations Assistant and Image Processing Coordinator for Cosmos 1 at The Planetary Society in Pasadena. “There’s only lots of speculation.”

Efforts to detect the spacecraft by U.S. Strategic Command, have apparently come up empty, mission commentators said. Mission managers are hoping that a contingency plan, which calls for several ground stations to command the orbiter to turn itself on, may make contact with Cosmos 1, but there may have been an anomaly with the spacecraft’s Volna launch vehicle.

Read more at space.com

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