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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

LightSail Readiness Tests Prepare Team for Mission Operations

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/04/24 12:36 CDT | 3 comments

The LightSail team continues to prepare for the spacecraft's May test flight with a series of readiness simulations that mimic on-orbit operations.

Read More »

LightSail Launch Delayed until at least May 20

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/04/13 10:40 CDT

The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft will have to wait at least two more weeks before setting sail on its maiden voyage.

Read More »

Your First Timeline of Events for LightSail's Test Flight

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/03/30 10:29 CDT

The team behind The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft is kicking off a series of simulations to ensure the spacecraft’s ground systems are ready for launch.

Read More »

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