Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty
Blogs

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

A million dollars says The Planetary Society can make a solar sail fly

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

09-11-2009 15:27 CST

Topics: Planetary Society Projects, LightSail

The Planetary Society announced today that an anonymous donor has put up one million dollars to help us get a solar sail in flight. That money will kick-start our ambitious new LightSail program, a series of three increasingly large solar sails that mark individual steps in the path toward viable solar sail flight.

LightSail-1 will start with the same basic goal that Cosmos-1 had: to demonstrate that sunlight alone can propel a spacecraft in Earth orbit. But its design is quite different: it will be built of a stack of three cubesats, each only ten centimeters on a side, or one liter in volume. One cubesat will house the electronics, and the other two the ultrathin Mylar sails, four of them, together comprising 32 square meters of sail area. It'll launch to an orbit more than 800 kilometers above Earth, out of reach of the atmosphere.

LightSail-2 will be operated at higher orbit, and LightSail-3 will go to libration point L1, where we hope eventually to see a solar sail permanently placed as a solar weather station, monitoring geomagnetic storms.

Stay tuned, of course, to planetary.org for much more news!

Today's Planetary Radio will feature more information on LightSail -- I will have that posted in a moment.

LightSail-1

Josh Spradling / The Planetary Society

LightSail-1
The Planetary Society's LightSail-1 solar sailing spacecraft is scheduled to ride a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket to orbit in 2016 with its parent satellite, Prox-1.
 
See other posts from November 2009

 

Or read more blog entries about: Planetary Society Projects, LightSail

Comments:

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

Essential Advocacy

Our Advocacy Program 
provides each Society member 
a voice in the process.



Funding is critical. The more 
we have, the more effective 
we can be, translating into more 
missions, more science, 
and more exploration.

Donate

Featured Images

Phobos sample return mission
BEAM expansion progress
THAICOM 8 drone ship landing
BEAM on Canadarm
More Images

Featured Video

The Planetary Post - A Visit To JPL

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join the New Millennium Committee

Let’s invent the future together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!