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LightSail

Flight by light for CubeSats

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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. 

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Josh Spradling / The Planetary Society

LightSail-1 Mission Trailer

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.

Project updates

LightSail Project Manager Passes Torch

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/07/01 04:02 CDT

LightSail project manager Doug Stetson, who helped bring the program from a storage shelf to low-Earth orbit, is passing the torch.

Read More »

Thank You, LightSail Trackers

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/06/19 01:19 CDT | 2 comments

A thank-you to all the space enthusiasts who helped track LightSail during its 25-day test mission.

Read More »

LightSail Test Mission Ends with Fiery Reentry

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/06/15 02:09 CDT | 7 comments

The LightSail test mission is officially over. Following a 25-day stay in low-Earth orbit, the spacecraft tumbled back into Earth’s atmosphere Sunday afternoon.

Read More »

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