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Japan's 'Ikaros' solar sail headed for space

This month, Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency plans to send a craft--actually it's more of a solar sail--into space with name of Ikaros.

The Solar power sail at the center of Japan's Ikaros project.
Japan Space Exploration Agency

Icarus is getting another shot at fame.

This month, Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency plans to send a craft--actually it's more of a solar sail--into space with name of Ikaros. ("Ikaros" is an acronym for "Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun.)

The Ikaros, which will be 66 feet across diagonally, will measure less than the thickness of a strand of human hair.

The other remarkable aspect of the kite: It's being designed to exploit the energy of sunlight. The force generated by the sunlight will help propel the Ikaros, which also will be slathered with thin-film solar cells to help generate electricity.

If the mission proves successful, the hope is that the project, among other things, will help reduce commercial costs in the solar cell market.

Read more of "'Ikaros' to get another shot at fame" at CBSNews.com.