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From VOA Learning English, this is the Science Report.
Can the sun provide power for a spaceship to travel to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a small satellite. A Delta V rocket carried the satellite into space on May 20th. The rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The satellite is designed to test the effectiveness of what is called solar sail propulsion. Its large sail will catch solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be a high speed.
The satellite is called CubeSat. It is about the size of a loaf of bread. A non-profit group called the Planetary Society designed CubeSat. The society’s chief executive officer is science educator Bill Nye. He says the satellite will test whether sunlight can be used as a way to power spacecraft for space travel. He said sunlight has no mass, but it can carry momentum. This means that as light strikes something, it can transfer force to the object. Mr. Nye says a spacecraft with a sail big enough will get a push from light striking it. Scientists believe this method of propulsion will reduce the cost of space exploration for universities and even private individuals.
The sail on CubeSat is 32-square meters. It is made of Mylar, a material that is only one fourth the thickness of a human hair. Bill Nye says laboratory tests of the sail were successful. But he said testing the sail in space when it is first deployed will be extremely important.
The Planetary Society reported in late May that the satellite had reached its orbit. The group said all of its systems appeared to be operating normally. It said the solar sail can be seen from the earth in June.