Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty


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. 

Replay the live announcement

Read the press release

Read the story

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

In Pictures: LightSail Cameras Prepped for Flight

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/25 01:13 CST | 2 comments

LightSail's flight cameras are being prepped for installation after receiving a software upgrade and checkout from their manufacturer.

Read More »

LightSail Deployer Passes Prox-1 Fit Check

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/10/26 05:03 CDT

At Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo engineers loaded a P-POD replica into the partially assembled frame of the Prox-1 spacecraft. The meetup was a fit check to make sure the two pieces of hardware fit together as designed.

Read More »

LightSail and Prox-1 Start Testing and Integration Process

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/10/16 11:25 CDT

On opposite sides of the United States, teams are starting the testing process to prepare two spacecraft for a one-of-a-kind in-space rendezvous.

Read More »

Items 1 - 3 of 77  12345678910Next
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

There's More to Explore!

Double your Impact

Are you coming with us? Support our year-end giving campaign and matching funds will double your impact up to $100,000.

Respond by January 15 to double your impact on space exploration!

Donate Today

Featured Images

Hayabusa2 image of Earth and the Moon, November 26, 2015
DSCOVR EPIC image of Earth, November 26, 2015
Orion ESM test article
LightSail-B on the bench
More Images

Featured Video

MISSIONS: Dawn In The Asteroid Belt With Marc Rayman

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Selfies to Space!

Take flight with a selfie on LightSail™ in 2016!

Send a Selfie Now

Connect With Us

Facebook! Twitter! Google+ and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!