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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 Radio Update: New Answers, New Questions

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/09/03 01:47 CDT | 5 comments

Two weeks after radio anomalies scrubbed LightSail's day-in-the-life test, the team continues to close in on the source of the problem.

Read More »

Radio Problems Scrub LightSail's Day-in-the-Life Test

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/08/22 05:16 CDT | 1 comment

A pesky radio problem that has occasionally stymied LightSail has returned, scrubbing the mission's day-in-the-life test.

Read More »

LightSail Prepares for Its Day-in-the-Life Test

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/08/12 08:14 CDT

LightSail-A's radio system has been fixed, and the spacecraft is now preparing for its August 20 day-in-the-life test.

Read More »

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LightSail - Flight by Light

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