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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 Lands New Hardware for Laser Ranging

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/08/18 08:16 CDT | 1 comment

A cluster of small mirrors will be added to LightSail's aft hull to allow engineers to precisely track its position as it sails around the planet next year.

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LightSail Nominated for SmallSat Mission of the Year

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/08/11 04:03 CDT | 2 comments

The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft has been nominated for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Small Satellite Technical Committee Mission of the Year 2015 award.

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LightSail Workshop Recaps Lessons Learned from Test Mission

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/07/16 04:01 CDT | 3 comments

The LightSail team held a workshop in Pasadena to discuss lessons learned from the test mission and plan for the second flight in 2016.

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