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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 Deployer Passes Prox-1 Fit Check

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/10/26 05:03 CDT

At Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo engineers loaded a P-POD replica into the partially assembled frame of the Prox-1 spacecraft. The meetup was a fit check to make sure the two pieces of hardware fit together as designed.

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LightSail and Prox-1 Start Testing and Integration Process

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/10/16 11:25 CDT

On opposite sides of the United States, teams are starting the testing process to prepare two spacecraft for a one-of-a-kind in-space rendezvous.

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LightSail Gets Backup Burn Wire for 2016 Mission

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/09/25 04:30 CDT | 2 comments

LightSail's burn wire, the mission-critical component responsible for releasing the spacecraft's solar panels, will get a backup ahead of next year's solar sailing mission.

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