Russians Launch Prototype Inflatable Spacecraft

A Russian-European team tested a new inflatable spacecraft over the weekend with the launch of their “Demonstrator-2” on board a converted Volna SS-N-18 intercontinental ballistic missile. The prototype was less than a metre across when packed into the rocket, but it inflated into a sail almost 4 metres across when it reached orbit. It then drifted back to Earth somewhere near the Kamchatka Peninsula. Future uses for this technology could include a method for bailing out of the space station, or to transfer cargo from space back to Earth.