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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

Liftoff! LightSail Sails into Space aboard Atlas V Rocket

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/20 10:44 CDT | 4 comments

The first of The Planetary Society’s two LightSail spacecraft is now in space following a late morning launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Read More »

In Pictures: LightSail’s Rocket Rolls to the Launch Pad

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/19 12:39 CDT | 3 comments

Pictures of The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft rollout to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 41.

Read More »

Timeline: LightSail's First Day in Space

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/19 04:01 CDT | 1 comment

It's the day before launch at Cape Canaveral. Here's a timeline of events for LightSail's first day in space.

Read More »

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