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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. 

Replay the live announcement

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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 is happening, and I'll be your new guide

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/06/02 12:19 CDT

Today, I'm joining The Planetary Society full-time as a media producer. My first task is to become an embedded reporter for LightSail, the Society's solar sailing spacecraft.

Read More »

LightSail presented at Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/05/31 03:10 CDT | 20 comments

Chris Biddy from Stellar Exploration Inc. presented information about our LightSail project at the 2012 Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium.

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Testing Sail Deployment

Posted by Louis D. Friedman on 2011/03/06 11:00 CST | 1 comment

The first full scale deployment of the Planetary Society's LightSail-1 solar sail was conducted on March 4, 2011 at Stellar Exploration in San Luis Obispo, California.

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LightSail - Flight by Light

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