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Solar Sail Spacecraft Contact Restored After Software Glitch Paused Communications

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
05/30/2015

CONTACT:
Erin Greeson
Email: erin.greeson@planetary.org
Phone: +1-626-793-5100

Pasadena, Ca. (May 30, 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 now resumed contact after a suspected software glitch affected communications. The LightSail team will soon determine when to attempt deployment of the spacecraft’s Mylar® solar sails. 

Bill Nye (The Science Guy), CEO at The Planetary Society, issued the following statement:

"Our LightSail called home! It’s alive! Our LightSail spacecraft has rebooted itself, just as our engineers predicted. Everyone is delighted. We were ready for three more weeks of anxiety. In this meantime, the team has coded a software patch ready to upload. After we are confident in the data packets regarding our orbit, we will make decisions about uploading the patch and deploying our sails— and we’ll make those decisions very soon. This has been a rollercoaster for us down here on Earth, all the while our capable little spacecraft has been on orbit going about its business. In the coming two days, we will have more news, and I am hopeful now that it will be very good.”

For in-depth coverage of LightSail’s test and 2016 missions, follow embedded reporter, Jason Davis at planetary.org/blogs/jason-davis.

Related Recent News

Blog post (May 26, 2015): Software Glitch Pauses LightSail Test Mission

Press release (May 20, 2015): Bill Nye & Planetary Society Celebrate LightSail™ Spacecraft Test Launch; Citizen-funded solar sail CubeSat in orbit, awaits sail deployment stage

Media Resources 

Visit the LightSail Press Kit for resources available for media usage, including: videos, photography, biographies and press releases.

Videos

Then & Now: Carl Sagan on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson

LightSail Mission Trailer

LightSail Mission (Full Version)

Bill Nye & Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson launch Kickstarter

More Information

LightSail Fact Sheet (PDF)

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About The Planetary Society

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.