Solar powered spacecraft developed by Japanese scientists

Japanese scientists have developed a kite-shaped `space yacht` that uses only solar power for propulsion.

Updated: Apr 29, 2010, 19:21 PM IST

London: Japanese scientists have developed a
kite-shaped `space yacht` that uses only solar power for

The spacecraft -- Ikaros -- would be launched into the
space next month for a six-month mission during which it would
head towards Venus.

In space, the spacecraft`s short cylindrical pod will be
separated from the rocket spinning up to 20 times a minute.

This will help it unfold its flexible 46 feet sail, which is
thinner than a human hair, the Daily Mail reported.

The square shaped sail, equipped with thin-film solar
cells, uses resistance created by the Sun`s energy in the same
way as wind propels a yacht through water thus providing the
spacecraft with enough thrust to hover and rotate.

"Solar sails are the technology that realises space
travel without fuel as long as we have sunlight. It is a
hybrid technology of electricity and pressure. The
availability of electricity would enable us to navigate
farther and more effectively in the solar system," Japanese
Space Agency expert Yuichi Tsuda said.

The 35 million pound Ikaros will be the first spacecraft
to use such technology in deep space.

A spokesman for Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
(Jaxa) said: "This will be the world`s first solar powered
sail craft employing both photon propulsion and thin film
power generation during its interplanetary cruise."

"It`s name is an acronym for Interplanetary Kite-craft
Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun. It also alludes to the
Greek mythic hero Icarus who flew too close to the Sun and
fell into the sea," the spokesman said.

The spacecraft propelled only by sunlight particles
bouncing off its kite-shaped sails will blast off from
Tanegashima Space Center.

If the mission is a success then Jaxa would further
missions to the red giant Jupiter and Trojan using sails more
than twice as the size of the Ikaros.


Thimphu: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
on Thursday invited his counterpart Manmohan Singh to visit Pakistan
and the Indian leader responded saying he would love to do so.

"Prime Minister Gilani invited him (Singh) to visit
Pakistan. He said he would love to visit Pakistan," Foreign
Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters here.

Qureshi was full of praise for Singh whom he described as
an "academic and a visionary".

"He (Singh) has his heart in the right place. He is a
well-meaning man. He is an academic. He is a visionary. He
wants to move on," the Pakistan Foreign Minister said after a
meeting between the two Prime Ministers on the margins of the
SAARC Summit here.

Qureshi said that during the Singh-Gilani talks, he saw
"positive spirit" on both sides and the two Prime Ministers
were chatting as friends.

The then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had visited
Pakistan in 1999 and there had been no such visit since then.


Imphal: A three-day bandh has been called
in the hill districts of Manipur by a local committee from
tomorrow night in protest against the government`s proposal to
hold elections to autonomous district councils -- a move that
has thrown up a sharp division between various ethnic groups.

In a statement here today, the Manipur Tribal Joint Action
Committee (JAC) against election under unwanted district
council Act said they would oppose the proposed elections at
any cost since not enough monetary power was given to the
district councils.

The statement also asked the tribal MLAs and ministers to
resign from their respective posts without further delay.

Official sources said notification for the first phase
elections to three autonomous district councils of Sadar
Hills, Chandel and Churachandpur was issued on April 26 and
the last date for filing nomination papers was fixed on May 3.

Sources however, denied the charges levelled against the
government by some hill-based organisations and pointed out
that enough monetary power was given to the district councils.

Reports from the hill districts said the Manipur hills
were sharply divided over the issue of elections.

While some districts, particularly Kuki-Chin-Mizo
group-settled areas, wanted to hold elections, Naga-inhabited
areas were opposed to it.

Sources said notification for the second phase elections
to Naga-settled areas of Ukhrul, Tamenglong and Senapati would
soon be issued.

The All Naga Students` Association Manipur (ANSAM)
supported by United Naga Council (UNC) had launched indefinite
national highway blockade a week ago causing inconvenience to
the people in the state, reports said.

ANSAM and UNC had said they would do their best to oppose
the elections.

Reports said the two national highways--Imphal-Dimapur no.
39 and Imphal-Jiribam no 53-- are the main `life lines` for
land-locked Manipur.

Various social organisations have appealed to the ANSAM
and UNC to call off the blockade and launch other agitations
which would not affect the general population.