28 April 2010, JellyBean @ 4:38 pm

A ‘space yacht’ propelled only by sunlight particles bouncing off its kite-shaped sails is to launch next month.

A rocket carrying the Japanese craft will blast off from Tanegashima Space Center on May 18.

Once in space the short cylindrical pod will separate from the rocket spinning up to 20 times a minute. This will help it to unfold its flexible 46ft sail, which is thinner than a human hair.

The square shaped sail is equipped with thin-film solar cells and will use resistance created by the Sun’s energy in much the same way as wind propels a yacht through water. This will provide it with enough thrust to hover and rotate.

‘It is a hybrid technology of electricity and pressure’, Japanese Space Agency expert Yuichi Tsuda said.

‘Solar sails are the technology that realises space travel without fuel as long as we have sunlight. The availability of electricity would enable us to navigate farther and more effectively in the solar system.’

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Daily Mail

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