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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

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

LightSail 2 launch slips to Fall

Jason Davis • May 11, 2018 • 2

The second flight of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket is now scheduled for no earlier than October 30, 2018.

Pew pew! Lasers will help determine where LightSail 2 is

Jason Davis • April 25, 2018

The International Laser Ranging Service, or ILRS, will lend its services to the LightSail 2 mission.

LightSail 2 doubles the fun with double integrations

Jason Davis • March 20, 2018 • 1

LightSail 2 is integrated in Prox-1! It's another important step toward launch day.

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