When Cosmos 1, the first solar sail spacecraft, launches on June 21, 2005, it will carry into Earth orbit a CD containing the names of over 75,000 members of The Planetary Society and the Japan Planetary Society, along with the works of early visionaries who inspired solar sailing.
Yesterday, we sent out an invitation to print, TV, and Web media for the launch event we'll be holding at our Pasadena headquarters on Tuesday. So today, the buzz really began about our mission, and the phones are beginning to ring off the hook.
From Moscow to the Marshall Islands and California to the Czech Republic, tracking stations around the world will receive data from Cosmos 1, the world's first solar sail spacecraft after it launches on June 21, 2005.
The biggest reason that NASA—as well as other western space agencies—has not attempted a solar sail flight is that the cost of launching even a small spacecraft is so high that they are unwilling to carry out a mission with very modest goals.
During April 2005, the Mars Global Surveyor happened to pass relatively close to Odyssey and Mars Express. What resulted were remarkably clear pictures of human-made spacecraft orbiting and alien world.