The world's first solar sailing ship will be launched from a Russian nuclear submarine on 21 June.
Once the ship reaches orbit at 825 kilometres above the Earth, it will unfurl eight 15-metre panels and orientate them towards the sun.
As the sun's rays hit the sails the photons they contain create pressure and cause Cosmos 1 to accelerate, albeit at just one twentieth of a millimetre per second.
The acceleration is constant, however, unlike chemical rockets that can only be fired for short periods. As there is almost no friction in a vacuum to slow the craft, it will be travelling at thousands of miles per hour within weeks.
"The data from this historic flight is critical because solar sailing is a technology that holds much promise for humanity's future in space. If successful, this technology may change the way we explore space," said Friedman, who is executive director of the Planetary Society.
The Society is asking for volunteers to track the craft as it orbits. Anyone interested can sign up at the Society's website here.
Solar sails have been in the realm of science fiction up until now. Science fiction writer Cordwainer Smith first used the idea, but it was Arthur C Clarke who brought the idea to the larger population by proposing solar racing between the earth and the moon.
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