Last month, The Planetary Society announced some long-awaited news: LightSail 1, the Society's solar sailing spacecraft, has a launch date. In 2016, LightSail will hitch a ride to orbit aboard SpaceX's new Falcon Heavy rocket. The spacecraft is teaming up with Prox-1, another small satellite that will deploy and rendezvous with LightSail, as well as capture images of the spacecraft's solar sail deployment.
The announcement was made during a live broadcast of Planetary Radio at the KPCC Crawford Family Forum in Pasadena, Calif. You can re-watch the entire event here, but if you only have a couple minutes to spare, check out this video recap by Merc Boyan, a videographer and self-described science advocate.
LightSail launch announcement recap Merc Boyan / The Planetary Society
Mat Kaplan hosted the show. He was joined onstage by Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye, president Jim Bell and LightSail system engineer Barbara Plante. Joining via Skype were LightSail project manager Doug Stetson and science fiction author David Brin. Tickets for the show, which was broadcast live on Southern California Public Radio, quickly sold out. A strong contingent of Planetary Society members and volunteers attended. Space geeks of all ages showed up. There were also some Bill Nye fans—one of whom sports a signature Science Guy bow tie in the video.
"It's a mission, man!" says Planetary Society president Jim Bell to Bill Nye at one point. "We're just a bunch of people who love space. We put it all together, and we're going to run our own mission."