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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

How LightSail Holds Its Place in Space

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/02/20 04:00 CST | 3 comments

There are few systems aboard a spacecraft more important than attitude control. This infographic shows how LightSail holds its place in space.

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It's Official: LightSail Test Flight Scheduled for May 2015

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/01/26 04:33 CST | 3 comments

This May, the first of The Planetary Society's two member-funded LightSail spacecraft is slated to hitch a ride to space for a test flight aboard an Atlas V rocket.

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A Look Back at an Amazing Year

Posted by Jennifer Vaughn on 2014/12/31 01:16 CST

As excited as we are to jump into 2015, I want to take time to reflect on the year coming to a close and applaud all that we’ve accomplished working together.

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