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LightSail

Flight by light for CubeSats

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

LightSail-A Has a Blown Radio Amplifier. Now What?

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/07/23 03:02 CDT

LightSail-A's blown radio amplifier doesn't affect the 2016 SpaceX Falcon Heavy mission, but it adds an unwelcome obstacle to the 2015 test mission's ever-shortening timetable.

Read More »

LightSail update: Launch dates

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/07/09 09:00 CDT | 2 comments

I’m excited to report some big news on The Planetary Society’s LightSail project: actual launch dates on actual launch vehicles!

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LightSail update: Of booms and pretty pictures

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/07/01 03:42 CDT | 3 comments

The latest series of LightSail boom deployment tests went smoothly, paving the way for a full system test later in July.

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