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Flight by light for CubeSats

LightSail-1 has a launch date! The Planetary Society's solar sailing spacecraft is scheduled to launch aboard the SpaceX Falcon Heavy in April 2016. 

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Josh Spradling / The Planetary Society

LightSail-1 Mission Trailer

CubeSats are tiny, low-cost satellites that have 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 was successfully used by Japan’s IKAROS mission in 2010, and NASA’s NanoSail-D test-deployed a CubeSat solar sail in Earth orbit later that year.

In 2016, The Planetary Society’s LightSail program will take the technology a step further. LightSail-1 will attempt to demonstrate controlled solar sailing—flight by light—for CubeSats.

Project updates

Planetary Society hosts space policy reception at Australian Embassy

Matt Renninger • September 06, 2017 • 3

This year’s International Astronautical Congress (IAC) is being held in Adelaide, Australia. Thanks to the generous support of our members, The Society’s advocacy and outreach capability is rapidly expanding, and we decided to step up our IAC advocacy this year.

A good time for solar sailing: LightSail 2 finds itself among friends

Jason Davis • August 23, 2017

Is the quest for flight by light approaching a tipping point? Representatives from the NEA Scout, CubeSail and StarChip missions discuss how their spacecraft are advancing the art of solar sailing.

LightSail 2 updates: Prox-1 mission changes, new launch date

Jason Davis • July 21, 2017 • 2

LightSail 2 and Prox-1 are expected to launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy no earlier than April 30, 2018.

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LightSail 2 will launch aboard the SpaceX Falcon Heavy. Be part of this epic point in space exploration history!

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