The Planetary Society and Cosmos-1 header


Flight-configured spacecraft

Build Your Own Cosmos-1 Solar Sail
Spacecraft Scale Model!


Cosmos-1 is no ordinary spacecraft. It's humanity's first solar sailing craft, a project led by The Planetary Society (are you a member?)

And this is no ordinary scale model. It's a complete, enjoyable, "hands-on" course on solar sailing, and it's free! When you finish with this sizzling website, you'll not only have a handsome scale model of Cosmos-1, but you'll you'll understand all about the actual Cosmos-1 Solar Sail Spacecraft itself! Plus, you'll know just how everything works... how the spacecraft works in flight, and in general how solar sailing works in Earth orbit and beyond.

You're about to find everything you need, right here, to become a spacefaring sailor!

This scale model project is designed for people generally over twelve years old, although younger people might also enjoy it if they have the interest, motivation, reading skill and model-building skill. It can be accomplished by one person, but there's also room for friends or family to participate if you prefer. Teachers and space-motivated students are sure to gain a whole lot from it.

Here's How it Works...

You download the scale model parts in the ".pdf" file that you'll find in the Assembly Instructions section linked below. You can read it using the Adobe Acrobat Reader with just about any kind of computer. (Here's the Adobe Acrobat Reader, free of charge from Adobe.) You print out the parts onto card stock, and then follow the instructions. There are several items you'll need to supply, and they're all listed in the instructions. Once you've completed the scale model of Cosmos-1, you'll know spacecraft very well. Then, as you continue through this website, you'll find out how everything works. When you watch as the Cosmos-1 mission take place in space, you'll understand exactly what's going on at every step!

Let's Go Sailing!

  • First browse these Assembly Instructions and decide whether this project is for you. If so, follow the instructions to assemble your scale model. You'll find two versions to choose from. The "regular" version is easier, and results in a spacecraft model whose solar sail blades are fixed in the flat "full-thrust" position. The "advanced" version takes considerably more skill, time and effort, but results in a model whose solar sail blades can articulate to simulate how the spacecraft operates in orbit.

  • Next, read about orbit basics, and a couple of important terms: "Periapsis" and "Apoapsis."

  • See how the Sun propels a solar sail...

  • And then find out exactly what Cosmos-1 aims to do with its orbit, and how it will do it.

Congratulations on becoming a bona-fide solar sailor! Be sure to visit the Cosmos-1 website to watch the flight of humanity's first solar sail spacecraft, as the exciting mission unfolds.

Also, you might be interested in reading these excerpts from Dr. Lou Friedman's book on solar sailing.

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