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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

Meet LightSail 2, The Planetary Society's new solar sailing CubeSat

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/02/29 06:35 CST | 1 comment

The Planetary Society's solar sailing CubeSat has a new designation: LightSail 2. To celebrate the name change, we're releasing a new video showing footage from a late January sail deployment at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Read More »

First Look: Newest LightSail Spacecraft Unfurls Solar Sails

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/01/29 05:31 CST | 3 comments

The Planetary Society's LightSail spacecraft successfully deployed its solar sails Thursday, wrapping up an initial round of system-level tests to prepare the CubeSat for flight.

Read More »

Upgraded LightSail Software Completes First Round of Flight Testing

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/01/26 05:04 CST | 2 comments

LightSail has completed its first round of flight testing. The spacecraft is now armed with new software that will transmit almost three times as much health and status data back to Earth than it did during last year's test flight.

Read More »

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