Planetary Society plans new ‘solar sail’

Joshua Van Hoesen

From The Associated Press

PASADENA, Calif. – The California-based Planetary Society will try again to launch a solar sail spacecraft that would be propelled by the subtle pressure of sunlight.

The announcement Monday comes more than four years after the society’s first attempt ended up in the ocean when the Russian rocket carrying the spacecraft failed to reach orbit.

The Planetary Society says the new project is being boosted by an anonymous $1 million donation.

The project envisions a total of three solar sail spacecraft being launched over several years, the first by the end of next year.

A solar sail is not propelled by the stream of ionized gas known as the solar wind but by the pressure of light — photons pushing against a surface.