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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

Software Glitch Pauses LightSail Test Mission

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/26 04:35 CDT | 9 comments

The Planetary Society’s LightSail test mission has been paused while engineers wait out a suspected software glitch that has silenced the solar sailing spacecraft.

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LightSail Update: All Systems Nominal

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/21 02:33 CDT | 4 comments

It's been 24 hours since The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft was deposited into space yesterday afternoon. All systems continue to look healthy.

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LightSail Sends First Data Back to Earth

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/20 06:19 CDT | 10 comments

LightSail is sending home telemetry following a Wednesday commute to orbit aboard an Atlas V rocket.

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