In yet another example of Science Fiction becoming Science Fact, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) IKAROS Solar Sail craft has successfully deployed it’s sail membrane. Now, using the photon pressure of the Solar Wind, IKAROS will literally sail its way to the planet Venus.
I haven’t been able to find any estimates for when the craft will arrive at Venus, but since this is the first Solar Sail to ever be deployed, I’m sure there’s a lot of variables and unknowns. It’ll get there, when it gets there… Expect it to take years.
Mission Website: http://www.jaxa.jp/projects/sat/ikaros/index_e.html
More Mission Info: http://www.jspec.jaxa.jp/e/activity/ikaros.html