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.
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.
Pictures of The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft rollout to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 41.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/18 04:01 CDT
It’s launch week in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft is buttoned up for flight aboard an Atlas V rocket. Liftoff is scheduled Wednesday sometime between 10:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. EDT.
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