The galaxy’s first solar powered sail was unfurled a couple of weeks ago when the diminuitive Japanese IKAROS space vehicle set her light-powered spinnaker with this photo to prove it was deployed. We reported on this a few months back, and the JAAA has released some more info about this interesting project, most notably (for all the sailmakers out there), its sail is made of super-aluminized plastic roughly the thickness of a red blood cell. Try to stitch that up when you catch it on a space-stanchion!
IKAROS has the rest of the year to prove that its sail is a viable means of space transportation. We’ll keep an eye out.
Another few billion dollars may be soon wasted on another idiotic military invention if approvals continue to flow for DARPA’s newest sillyness: The submersible plane. It’s been tried before many times without success, though scientists at the US military’s gizmo shop think materials technology might finally be up to the task of creating this most useful of vehicles. We wish they’d spend their time and our money figuring out how to get oil out of seawater instead.
Check out this Gizmodo story on how they plan to do it. Don’t expect to learn why.