JAXA’s IKAROS spacecraft, the first-ever solar sail deployed in orbit, shown en route towards Venus (June 2010). Image credit: JAXA.
The Space Review is reporting that the Japanese Space Agency JAXA recently made history with a huge milestone reached in the science of spacecraft propulsion. On May 21, JAXA launched its IKAROS craft, which moves by sailing on solar winds, toward Venus. The craft was launched with the Venus Climate Orbiter, AKATSUKI (which means 'dawn' or 'daybreak'). JAXA: "This is the world's first solar powered sail craft employing both photon propulsion and thin film solar power generation during its interplanetary cruise." JAXA's homepage for IKAROS ((Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun) is here and the info leaflet is here.