Jason DavisJan 13, 2017

Want to build on our LightSail work? Here are some resources to get started

We get a lot of questions about LightSail specifics here at The Planetary Society. 

Students of all ages write to ask about specific components of the spacecraft. We hear from professional engineers looking for insight on everything from deployable structures to ground stations. And there are plenty of enthusiasts out there looking for digital schematics to build both physical and virtual models of our solar sailing CubeSat (we've seen LightSail show up in Kerbal Space Program, on occasion).

One of the primary goals of the LightSail program is to advance the state of solar sailing technologies. To that end, we've create a new webpage where you can find a treasure trove of LightSail technical resources.


Visit our new LightSail Academic Resource Center

Want LightSail schematics, links to peer-reviewed papers, a parts lists and imagery? Check out our new Academic Resource Center.

LightSail schematic sample
LightSail schematic sample Image: Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation / The Planetary Society

Here's a quick tour of the various page sections:


Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation, our primary contractor, put together a nice set of baseline schematics for LightSail 2. We also have 3D PDF models of the spacecraft in all three mission states: cube form, panels deployed, and sails unfurled. (You'll need a 3D-capable PDF reader for these—Adobe Reader should do the trick.)


We uploaded seven peer-reviewed papers that our team has published on both LightSail 1 and 2. Three of those papers are being presented next week at the Fourth International Symposium on Solar Sailing in Kyoto, Japan. Our CEO, Bill Nye, will be there, as will Barbara Plante, or systems engineer from Boreal Space.

Parts List

We get a lot of questions about specific spacecraft components, so Ecliptic's Riki Munakata helped us cobble together a reference list of LightSail parts and their vendors. Links are included to manuals and schematics where possible.


If you need a better idea of what the spacecraft looks like from different angles, we included a few high-resolution shots from spacecraft testing at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.


LightSail 1 updated solar sail selfie
LightSail 1 updated solar sail selfie This image was captured by a camera aboard LightSail 1 on June 8, 2015, shortly after solar sail deployment. It was color-corrected by Dan Slater to remove the camera's artificial purplish tint based on ground test images, and is a closer approximation to what the human eye would see.Image: The Planetary Society

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