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LightSail

Flight by light for CubeSats

CubeSats are tiny satellites that hitch rides to space aboard rockets carrying larger payloads. The low cost of these satellites has 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 has been successfully demonstrated by Japan’s IKAROS mission, and NASA’s NanoSail-D gathered data on using solar sailing as a method of de-orbiting defunct satellites.

The Planetary Society’s LightSail program will take the technology a step further. The LightSail-A spacecraft will go on a shakedown cruise to test sail deployment and spacecraft operations. LightSail-B will attempt to demonstrate controlled solar sailing. Launch dates are coming soon.

Project updates

LightSail Launch Delayed until at least May 20

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/04/13 10:40 CDT

The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft will have to wait at least two more weeks before setting sail on its maiden voyage.

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Your First Timeline of Events for LightSail's Test Flight

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/03/30 10:29 CDT

The team behind The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft is kicking off a series of simulations to ensure the spacecraft’s ground systems are ready for launch.

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LightSail Featured on CBS Evening News

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/03/16 10:02 CDT | 2 comments

The Planetary Society's LightSail spacecraft made an appearance on national television Monday night during a two-minute segment by CBS Evening News.

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