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LightSail

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. 

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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

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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LightSail Update: The International Solar Sailing Symposium

Posted by Louis D. Friedman on 2010/10/01 12:00 CDT

Japan's IKAROS team stole the show at the International Solar Sailing Symposium in New York City, where they announced that their spacecraft had achieved controlled solar sail flight.

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LightSail team learns from IKAROS successes

Posted by Louis D. Friedman on 2010/07/26 12:00 CDT

Last week, Bill Nye and I attended the International Solar Sail Symposium at the New York College of Technology.

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