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Privately-Funded Spacecraft Spreads Its Solar Sails

A privately-funded space project to demonstrate an innovative solar sail passed with flying colors despite a series of near-fatal technical issues, program managers said on Wednesday. The 11-pound (5 kg) LightSail spacecraft, tucked inside a 4 x 4 x 12-in. (10 x 10 x 3-centimeter) box, hitched a ride into orbit aboard an Atlas 5 rocket carrying the U.S. Air Force's X-37B robot space plane on May 20. Funded by members of The Planetary Society, a California-based space advocacy...

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