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Blasting Off Today: A Satellite That Sails on Sunbeams


Blasting Off Today A Satellite That Sails on Sunbeams WIRED

Blasting Off Today A Satellite That Sails on Sunbeams WIRED

Blasting Off Today A Satellite That Sails on Sunbeams WIRED

Source: http://www.wired.com/2015/05/blasting-of...

THE ATLAS V booster set to launch from Cape Canaveral on Wednesday will carry some wild stuff to space.

Nestled in the nosecone will be the X-37B, an uncrewed reusable orbital vehicle that flies classified missions for the Department of Defense. This time, the X-37B will be sporting a Hall thruster, a propulsion system that uses electrically-accelerated noble gas instead of burning rocket fuel. Or, to put it another way: It’s a secret spaceplane with an ion drive!

And tucked in behind that, the Atlas will have a package of CubeSats—small, flexible-mission satellites designed for customization with experiments and other space-bound payloads. The packages this time (PDF warning) include a plasma propulsion system, another ion drive, some communications equipment … and an idea from science fiction’s golden age that could reinvent space travel: the solar sail.

Stashed in: Space!

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That is so freaking cool! We live in glorious times. 

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