Tokyo: Japan said on Friday it’s kite-shaped
"space yacht", designed to float through space using only the
power of the sun, successfully started sailing with solar
A Japanese rocket last month launched the experimental
"Ikaros" -- Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation
of the Sun -- designed to be propelled by the pressure of
The technology could eventually enable space travel
without fuel, as long as there is sunlight.
Similar to an ocean yacht pushed by wind, the device has
a square, ultra-thin and flexible sail measuring 14 metres by
14 metres (46 by 46 feet) that will be driven through space as
it is pelted by solar particles.
The sail, which was fully expanded yesterday, is only a
fraction of the thickness of a human hair and is partly coated
with thin-film solar cells to generate electricity.
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) "confirmed the
full expansion of the sail and electric generation with thin
film solar cells at about 7.7 million kilometres from Earth,"
it said in a statement.
JAXA will continue monitoring and studying "navigation
technology using the solar sail", it said.
The name alludes to Icarus, the figure from Greek
mythology who flew too close to the sun. The space yacht,
however, is headed in the direction of Venus.