Riding Sunlight

A solar sail spacecraft relies on sunlight instead of wind to cruise through space.

By Emily Sohn, 00:00 AM January 4, 2005

Hundreds of years ago, sailing ships carried explorers across the ocean from Europe to America and beyond. A future generation of explorers might set sail, too—not across water, but across outer space.

Later this year, researchers plan to test a solar sail spacecraft that uses sunlight instead of wind to move.

In theory, spacecraft pushed by light could cruise at high speeds without using any fuel. Fast and practical travel to other planets and even stars might then become possible.

Solar sails, like the ones on the Cosmos 1 spacecraft, could use sunlight to push a vehicle through space.

Sola...

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