Less than two months after being unfurled in space, Japan's IKAROS solar sail accomplished its ambitious aim—becoming the first spacecraft to travel in space, powered by the sun. Now, it's demonstrated its fine steering ability.
Good news for the Little Japanese Solar Sail That Could, as the first images of the solar sail spread out in full deployment have been snapped. All is going according to plan, says the space agency, and "flying" looks possible.
The 20meter (diagonally) solar sail Ikaros we mentioned last month has been successfully unfurled in space by its Japanese team. Now it's a waiting game to see if it can be used for solar-powered travel as planned.
Japan is launching its first Venus probe and along with it they're sending Ikaros, a "space yacht" also known as the Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun. Yes, Japan is sending a gigantic kite into space: