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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

LightSail 2 update roundup: Testing, delivery and a new animation in the works

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/10/07 06:01 CDT | 1 comment

LightSail 2 and Prox-1 are expected to meet for integration by the end of the year. Here's an update roundup, including a sneak peek of new animations and the abstract from a recently accepted paper on the spacecraft's attitude control system.

Read More »

Back to school: LightSail 2 and Prox-1 provide unique experience for university students

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/08/08 06:00 CDT

From Cal Poly to Georgia Tech, university students working on SmallSat projects gain critical real-world spaceflight experience, preparing them for promising careers in the space industry.

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Videos and updates: LightSail 2 shows off magnetic personality

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/07/13 06:33 CDT | 3 comments

It's been a few weeks since LightSail 2 passed its day-in-the-life test at Cal Poly. Here's a roundup of updates that were made in response to the test results, and a look at the project's next steps.

Read More »

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