Bill Nye & The Planetary Society Issue LightSail™ Test Mission Update
Solar Sail Spacecraft Silenced, Software Glitch Suspected, Team Awaits Reboot
Pasadena, Ca. (May 26, 2015) – After a successful launch into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket out of Cape Canaveral, The Planetary Society’s LightSail™ spacecraft went silent after two days of communications. The solar sailing spacecraft test mission, a precursor to a 2016 mission, has been paused while engineers explore a suspected software glitch that is believed to have affected communications. A reboot is necessary to continue the mission. Upon reboot, the LightSail team may initiate manual deployment of the spacecraft’s Mylar® solar sails. Bill Nye (The Science Guy), CEO at The Planetary Society, issued the following statement:
"A problem like this teaches you more about your spacecraft than a mission that’s trouble-free. This is our test flight, and we have a healthy spacecraft in a stable orbit. Soon, we expect our little LightSail to reboot on its own, and we can get down to business up there. After 39 years, I can hang in for a few more weeks."
The Planetary Society has inspired millions of people to explore other worlds and seek other life. With the mission to empower the world's citizens to advance space science and exploration, its international membership makes the non-governmental Planetary Society the largest space interest group in the world. Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded The Planetary Society in 1980. Bill Nye, a longtime member of The Planetary Society's Board, serves as CEO.