High achievers

Could the Cosmos 1 solar-sail project mission be called a failure?

Here at The Planetary Society we are feeling energised. The support for our solar-sail project so far exceeded our expectations that there is no way the Cosmos 1 mission can be called a failure.

We are, however, disappointed we never got the chance to test our spacecraft. The Russian Volna rocket failed in its first stage and, while we have some data indicating our spacecraft might have made it into orbit and even worked briefly, it would have been badly out of its correct orbit.

But now is not the time to worry about what might have been. We have a list of accomplishments to be proud of. We built the first solar-sail spacecraft. We conducted the first space mission by a privately funded space interest group. We created an international partnership of scientists and engineers. We engaged national space agencies and won their respect.

And we caught the public’s imagination and passion for space exploration.

Louis Friedman

Project director, Cosmos 1 and executive director The Planetary Society California