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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. 

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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

Contact! LightSail Phones Home after 8-Day Silence

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/30 11:08 CDT | 12 comments

The Planetary Society’s LightSail test spacecraft reported for duty this afternoon, heralding the end of an uneasy silence caused by a suspected software glitch.

Read More »

For LightSail Test Mission, Waiting is the Hardest Part

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/29 04:02 CDT | 4 comments

The Planetary Society's LightSail spacecraft is now entering its second week of silence.

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Software Glitch Pauses LightSail Test Mission

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/26 04:35 CDT | 38 comments

The Planetary Society’s LightSail test mission has been paused while engineers wait out a suspected software glitch that has silenced the solar sailing spacecraft.

Read More »

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