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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

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

Calling All Image Processors: Help Us Create a Top-Down View of LightSail 2

Jason Davis • September 06, 2019

We've got 2 fish-eye pictures of the spacecraft's solar sail from opposite cameras, and we're hoping they can be combined.

The September Equinox 2019 Issue of The Planetary Report Is Out!

Emily Lakdawalla • September 03, 2019

A new issue of The Planetary Report brings you our pride in the success of LightSail 2 and our gratitude to our members for making it happen. Plus Venus science from Akatsuki and Venus Express, and the status of planetary defense.

Your Impact: Mission Success!

The Planetary Society • September 03, 2019

Your LightSail 2 spacecraft is in space, controlling its orbit solely on the power of sunlight.

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LightSail 2

LightSail 2 launched aboard the SpaceX Falcon Heavy. Be part of this epic point in space exploration history!

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