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LightSail

Flight by light for CubeSats

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LightSail-1 has a launch date! The Planetary Society's solar sailing spacecraft is scheduled to launch aboard the SpaceX Falcon Heavy in April 2016. 

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Josh Spradling / The Planetary Society

LightSail-1 Mission Trailer

CubeSats are tiny, low-cost satellites that have opened up new avenues of space research for universities and small organizations.

In order for CubeSat applications to reach the next level, the miniature satellites need a reliable form of propulsion for orbital maneuvers and trips beyond our planet. This is where solar sailing—transferring the momentum of photons to a large reflective sail—comes in. The technology was successfully used by Japan’s IKAROS mission in 2010, and NASA’s NanoSail-D test-deployed a CubeSat solar sail in Earth orbit later that year.

In 2016, The Planetary Society’s LightSail program will take the technology a step further. LightSail-1 will attempt to demonstrate controlled solar sailing—flight by light—for CubeSats.

Project updates

It's Official: LightSail Test Flight Scheduled for May 2015

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/01/26 04:33 CST

This May, the first of The Planetary Society's two member-funded LightSail spacecraft is slated to hitch a ride to space for a test flight aboard an Atlas V rocket.

Read More »

A Look Back at an Amazing Year

Posted by Jennifer Vaughn on 2014/12/31 01:16 CST

As excited as we are to jump into 2015, I want to take time to reflect on the year coming to a close and applaud all that we’ve accomplished working together.

Read More »

LightSail Completes Testing, Announcement Expected in January

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/12/12 10:19 CST | 1 comment

The Planetary Society's LightSail spacecraft successfully completed testing to prepare it for a possible 2015 test flight.

Read More »

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