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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

LightSail 2 updates: Launch date slips, environmental test complete, new video released

Jason Davis • August 08, 2018

LightSail 2's ride to space won't happen until at least November 30, as SpaceX works through a list of other payloads in line to fly first.

LightSail 2 team completes key mission review and dress rehearsal

Jason Davis • July 26, 2018 • 3

The LightSail 2 team gathered in Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for a Mission Readiness Review (MRR) and Operational Readiness Test (ORT).

LightSail 2 launch slips to Fall

Jason Davis • May 11, 2018 • 2

The second flight of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket is now scheduled for no earlier than October 30, 2018.

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