Popular Science previews the flight of NASA’s Sunjammer, set for launch in 2014.
The Sunjammer mission – the name is borrowed from an Arthur C. Clarke short story about an interplanetary yacht race — will unfurl a solar sail that dwarfs those that have thus far been tested in space. Where NanoSail-D’s diminutive sail measured just 100 square feet and Japan’s IKAROS measures something like 2,000 square feet, Sunjammer’s sail possesses a total surface area of nearly 13,000 square feet. Yet collapsed it weighs just 70 pounds and takes up about as much space as a dishwasher, making it easy to stow in the secondary payload bay of a rocket headed to low Earth orbit.
The destination for Sunjammer is the Earth-Sun Lagrange Point 1, a gravitationally stable spot way out there between us and our nearest star … Sunjammer will be carrying the cremated remains of various individuals, including Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and his wife Majel Barrett Roddenberry.
Via The Ghost in the Machine.