Jason DavisNov 25, 2015

In Pictures: LightSail Cameras Prepped for Flight

LightSail's flight cameras are being prepped for installation after receiving a software upgrade and checkout from their manufacturer.

At Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation in Pasadena, California, subsystem testing and integration of the solar sailing spacecraft continues. LightSail’s two flight cameras—as well as a third testing unit—were sent back to The Aerospace Corporation to receive a final firmware update and system checkout. The two flight cameras were recently returned to Ecliptic, where engineers are preparing to install them aboard the spacecraft. The third camera made its way north to San Luis Obispo, California, where it was integrated with LightSail's acrylic-mounted engineering clone, BenchSat.

Software lead John Bellardo, with the help of Ecliptic's Alex Diaz, successfully captured test images with the new BenchSat camera at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Because of data corruption problems that plagued the LightSail-A test mission, a new checksum routine—software used to verify data integrity—has been added to the image capture and transfer process.

After all component-level hardware testing is complete and LightSail has been re-assembled, the spacecraft will move on to system-level testing. On December 14, a testing readiness review will be held at The Planetary Society. System testing includes boom and sail deployments, along with a day-in-the-life test.  

LightSail integration and testing lead Riki Munakata recently snapped some pictures of the spacecraft in Ecliptic's clean room. The series shows engineer Stephanie Wong preparing to mount one of the recently returned flight cameras to a solar array.

LightSail 2 on the bench
LightSail 2 on the bench The LightSail 2 spacecraft in the clean room at Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation. Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation
LightSail 2 aft compartment
LightSail 2 aft compartment The aft compartment of LightSail contains the sail deployment motor. It is located just beneath the boom storage compartment. Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation
Solar arrays, flight cameras and momentum wheel
Solar arrays, flight cameras and momentum wheel Stephanie Wong unwraps a LightSail solar array from a bag used to protect the array from electrostatic discharge. Sitting on the table is a momentum wheel and the spacecraft's two flight cameras. Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation
LightSail 2 flight camera
LightSail 2 flight camera A LightSail 2 PSCAM (Planetary Society Camera) is prepped for installation on the spacecraft's +X axis. Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation
Stephanie Wong with LightSail 2 flight camera
Stephanie Wong with LightSail 2 flight camera Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation engineer Stephanie Wong holds a LightSail 2 flight camera. Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation
Staking the camera
Staking the camera Stephanie Wong prepares to stake a flight camera to LightSail's solar array. The camera will be used to image the spacecraft's solar sails in Earth orbit. Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation
Camera on the solar array
Camera on the solar array LightSail's camera sits in position at the end of the spacecraft's +X axis solar array. Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation

"We're changing the world. Are you in?"
- CEO Bill Nye

Sign up for email updates