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We are going to merge the ultra-light technology of nanosats with the ultra-large technology of solar sails in an audacious new program-- setting a course to the stars” 
-- Louis D. Friedman, Co-founder The Planetary Society

It's the biggest project in our history.
The Planetary Society is taking solar sailing to the next level…

Our solar sail is back! The Planetary Society is almost complete building a spacecraft to sail on sunlight alone. The new solar sail project, boosted by a one-million-dollar anonymous donation, is the beginning of an innovative program to launch a solar sail in Earth orbit.

Our program -- called LightSail -- begins with our LightSail-1 mission, which will demonstrate that sunlight can propel a spacecraft in Earth orbit.

LightSail-1 is a global project that EVERYONE can be a part of!

You can help create and launch a spacecraft designed to blaze a path to the stars.

Sailing on light pressure (from lasers rather than sunlight) is the only known technology that might carry out practical interstellar flight, helping pave our way to the stars. And, with our new LightSail project, we're also addressing the eminently practical, such as:

  • monitoring the Sun for solar storms,
  • providing stable Earth observation platforms, and
  • exploring our solar system without carrying heavy propellants.

After our first solar sail, Cosmos 1, was lost, we asked our members, "Should we try again?" We heard a resounding, "Yes! Go for it!" So we kept investigating all the possibilities, and now, thanks to your continued support -- including the million dollar donation – we've assembled a great mission team of top engineers and scientists, and we're moving ahead.

Project Updates

LightSail presented at Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/05/31 03:10 CDT | 20 comments

Chris Biddy from Stellar Exploration Inc. presented information about our LightSail project at the 2012 Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium

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Testing Sail Deployment

Posted by Louis D. Friedman on 2011/03/06 11:00 CST | 1 comments

The first full scale deployment of the Planetary Society's LightSail-1 solar sail was conducted on March 4, 2011 at Stellar Exploration in San Luis Obispo, California.

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LightSail-1 on NASA Short List for Upcoming Launch

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2011/02/09 11:00 CST

NASA announced that the Planetary Society’s LightSail-1 solar sail mission is on their short list for upcoming launch opportunities. The missions selected are Cubesats destined for piggyback launches as part of NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative.

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Nanosail-D released into space

Posted by Louis D. Friedman on 2011/01/21 12:26 CST

NASA's Nanosail-D spacecraft surprised everyone, including its controllers, by suddenly deploying from its parent FASTSAT spacecraft and beginning its mission in space.

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A Marathon Day Two at the USA Science & Engineering Festival

Posted by Susan Lendroth on 2010/10/24 10:41 CDT

Day Two of the USA Science & Engineering Festival, and it started with a game of "dodge the marathoners".

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