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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 update: Launch dates

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/07/09 09:00 CDT | 2 comments

I’m excited to report some big news on The Planetary Society’s LightSail project: actual launch dates on actual launch vehicles!

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LightSail update: Of booms and pretty pictures

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/07/01 03:42 CDT | 3 comments

The latest series of LightSail boom deployment tests went smoothly, paving the way for a full system test later in July.

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LightSail is Ready for Launch! Join Us as the Countdown Begins

Posted by Jennifer Vaughn on 2014/06/27 03:38 CDT | 12 comments

We hope you can be with us as we make a major announcement about our solar sail spacecraft, LightSail-1.

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