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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

In Pictures: LightSail’s Rocket Rolls to the Launch Pad

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/19 12:39 CDT | 3 comments

Pictures of The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft rollout to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 41.

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Timeline: LightSail's First Day in Space

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/19 04:01 CDT | 1 comment

It's the day before launch at Cape Canaveral. Here's a timeline of events for LightSail's first day in space.

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LightSail Launch Countdown: Ready for Rollout

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/18 04:01 CDT

It’s launch week in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft is buttoned up for flight aboard an Atlas V rocket. Liftoff is scheduled Wednesday sometime between 10:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. EDT.

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