In a page that reads like a shooting-script from a BBC4 Quatermass revival crossed with Warren Ellis’s Planetary Gun Club, we learn of the developing fate of the world’s first solar-sail spacecraft, launched from Russian Nuke Sub, by a club of private investors:
Cosmos 1the first solar sail was launched as scheduled at 19:46 UTC today from the nuclear submarine Borisoglebsk. The three stage separations occurred normally, and 15 minutes after launch a doppler signal was received at the temporary ground station at Petropavlovsk in Kamchatka. The signal lasted for around three minutes, and was then cut off for unknown reasons.
No signal has been received from the spacecraft since that time. The portable telemetry station at Majuro in the Marshall Islands did not receive a signal during the time it could have been in contact with the spacecraft. The next possible contact will be with the ground station at Panska Ves in the Czech Republic.
The fact that the spacecraft has remained silent does not necessarilly mean anything is wrong, according to Project Director Louis Friedman. Contact with the two portable stations at Petropavlovsk and Majuro was always considered marginal. We are now waiting for the contact periods with the permanent stations in Paska Ves, Tarusa, and Bear Lakes.