Planetary Society's Solar-Sail Test a Success in Space

Posted at 3:35 PM, Jun 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-10 15:35:00-04

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - An experimental solar sail is being called a success three weeks after its arrival in space.

The Planetary Society said Wednesday its test flight resulted in an almost full deployment of the sail, and has set the stage for a follow-up mission next year. The goal is to create a sail that can be propelled through space by sunlight.

The light, shiny Mylar sail is bigger that many living rooms - 344 square feet when stretched flat. It was folded into a little boxy spacecraft for its May 20 launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The team struggled with a series of vexing software problems with the spacecraft. The sail finally opened Sunday on the third try. It's expected to re-enter the atmosphere this weekend.