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Want to build on our LightSail work? Here are some resources to get started

Posted by Jason Davis

13-01-2017 10:30 CST

Topics: LightSail

We get a lot of questions about LightSail specifics here at The Planetary Society. 

Students of all ages write to ask about specific components of the spacecraft. We hear from professional engineers looking for insight on everything from deployable structures to ground stations. And there are plenty of enthusiasts out there looking for digital schematics to build both physical and virtual models of our solar sailing CubeSat (we've seen LightSail show up in Kerbal Space Program, on occasion).

One of the primary goals of the LightSail program is to advance the state of solar sailing technologies. To that end, we've create a new webpage where you can find a treasure trove of LightSail technical resources.

Visit our new LightSail Academic Resource Center

Want LightSail schematics, links to peer-reviewed papers, a parts lists and imagery? Check out our new Academic Resource Center.

LightSail schematic sample

Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation / The Planetary Society

LightSail schematic sample

Here's a quick tour of the various page sections:


Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation, our primary contractor, put together a nice set of baseline schematics for LightSail 2. We also have 3D PDF models of the spacecraft in all three mission states: cube form, panels deployed, and sails unfurled. (You'll need a 3D-capable PDF reader for these—Adobe Reader should do the trick.)


We uploaded seven peer-reviewed papers that our team has published on both LightSail 1 and 2. Three of those papers are being presented next week at the Fourth International Symposium on Solar Sailing in Kyoto, Japan. Our CEO, Bill Nye, will be there, as will Barbara Plante, or systems engineer from Boreal Space.

Parts List

We get a lot of questions about specific spacecraft components, so Ecliptic's Riki Munakata helped us cobble together a reference list of LightSail parts and their vendors. Links are included to manuals and schematics where possible.


If you need a better idea of what the spacecraft looks like from different angles, we included a few high-resolution shots from spacecraft testing at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.


LightSail 1 updated solar sail selfie

The Planetary Society

LightSail 1 updated solar sail selfie
This image was captured by a camera aboard LightSail 1 on June 8, 2015, shortly after solar sail deployment. It was color-corrected by Dan Slater to remove the camera's artificial purplish tint based on ground test images, and is a closer approximation to what the human eye would see.
See other posts from January 2017


Or read more blog entries about: LightSail


LightSailor: 01/13/2017 02:32 CST

Thanks, Jason - it's great to have a LightSail resource center online! I look forward to sharing out more about what it takes to actually fly LightSail 2; how theory becomes algorithms becomes code for Attitude Determination and Control (ADCS), and what we will be looking in our LightSail telemetry when we launch.

MBadgero: 01/14/2017 11:31 CST

Hi, I see that you used Spectrolab solar cells. They only sell those in fairly large quantities. What did you do with the extras? Do you have any extras for sale?

Charter 882: 01/16/2017 04:39 CST

Thanks for the regular updates about LightSail. Is there a proposed launch date?

Phil: 01/24/2017 09:55 CST

Hi: Just a quick question. How does our light sail effort relate to NASA's nano Sail D and D2 efforts. A re just repeating what has been done already? If not what are the differences. I thought our effort was the first to fly but this doesn't seem to be the case.

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