A solar-powered sail spacecraft has been unveiled by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

The interplanetary kite-craft accelerated by radiation of the sun (IKAROS) will be powered by solar energy from the thin-film solar cells on the membrane of the sail and will also be accelerated with the solar radiation.

The sail of the IKAROS satellite is a huge square made from polyimide resin 20m on the diagonal and 0.0075mm thick.

The sail is also fitted with an attitude control device, scientific observation sensors and the solar cells.

The experimental spacecraft will be launched with Japan’s first Venus orbiter, Akatsuki, atop an H-IIA launch vehicle on 18 May 2010.