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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. 

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 Deployment Update: Panels Wednesday, Sails Friday

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/06/02 07:00 CDT | 8 comments

LightSail Mission Managers have decided to split the spacecraft’s sail deployment sequence into two segments, following an extended checkout period that wrapped up Tuesday.

Read More »

First Look: Partial Camera Test Images from LightSail

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/06/01 07:02 CDT | 5 comments

A jumbled JPG never looked so pretty. This afternoon, LightSail sent home pieces of two images taken by one of the spacecraft's onboard cameras.

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LightSail Team Prepares for Sail Deployment

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/30 11:08 CDT | 8 comments

LightSail is almost ready for its moment in the sun. Mission managers are preparing for a manual solar sail deployment this week.

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