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Jason DavisNovember 25, 2015

In Pictures: LightSail Cameras Prepped for Flight

LightSail's flight cameras are being prepped for installation after receiving a software upgrade and checkout from their manufacturer.

At Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation in Pasadena, California, subsystem testing and integration of the solar sailing spacecraft continues. LightSail’s two flight cameras—as well as a third testing unit—were sent back to The Aerospace Corporation to receive a final firmware update and system checkout. The two flight cameras were recently returned to Ecliptic, where engineers are preparing to install them aboard the spacecraft. The third camera made its way north to San Luis Obispo, California, where it was integrated with LightSail's acrylic-mounted engineering clone, BenchSat.

Software lead John Bellardo, with the help of Ecliptic's Alex Diaz, successfully captured test images with the new BenchSat camera at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Because of data corruption problems that plagued the LightSail-A test mission, a new checksum routine—software used to verify data integrity—has been added to the image capture and transfer process.

After all component-level hardware testing is complete and LightSail has been re-assembled, the spacecraft will move on to system-level testing. On December 14, a testing readiness review will be held at The Planetary Society. System testing includes boom and sail deployments, along with a day-in-the-life test.  

LightSail integration and testing lead Riki Munakata recently snapped some pictures of the spacecraft in Ecliptic's clean room. The series shows engineer Stephanie Wong preparing to mount one of the recently returned flight cameras to a solar array.

LightSail 2 on the bench

Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation

LightSail 2 on the bench
The LightSail 2 spacecraft in the clean room at Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation.
LightSail 2 aft compartment

Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation

LightSail 2 aft compartment
The aft compartment of LightSail contains the sail deployment motor. It is located just beneath the boom storage compartment.
Solar arrays, flight cameras and momentum wheel

Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation

Solar arrays, flight cameras and momentum wheel
Stephanie Wong unwraps a LightSail solar array from a bag used to protect the array from electrostatic discharge. Sitting on the table is a momentum wheel and the spacecraft's two flight cameras.
LightSail 2 flight camera

Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation

LightSail 2 flight camera
A LightSail 2 PSCAM (Planetary Society Camera) is prepped for installation on the spacecraft's +X axis.
LightSail 2 flight camera

Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation

LightSail 2 flight camera
Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation engineer Stephanie Wong holds a LightSail 2 flight camera.
Staking the camera

Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation

Staking the camera
Stephanie Wong prepares to stake a flight camera to LightSail's solar array. The camera will be used to image the spacecraft's solar sails in Earth orbit.
Camera on the solar array

Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation

Camera on the solar array
LightSail's camera sits in position at the end of the spacecraft's +X axis solar array.

Read more: LightSail

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Jason Davis

Journalist and Digital Editor for The Planetary Society
Read more articles by Jason Davis

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