Jason DavisJul 03, 2019

LightSail 2 Healthy as Mission Team Continues Spacecraft Checkouts

The Planetary Society's LightSail 2 spacecraft is healthy in orbit, as its mission team at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in California works through procedures to prepare the spacecraft for sail deployment. 

Following a successful first contact with the spacecraft yesterday, the team established two-way communications and started working through a 73-step checklist to check out the spacecraft’s systems and perform various tests. That checklist is roughly one-third complete; a target time for sail deployment will be announced in the next few days.

LightSail, a Planetary Society solar sail spacecraft

LightSail is a citizen-funded project from The Planetary Society to send a small spacecraft, propelled solely by sunlight, to Earth orbit.

Telemetry from LightSail 2 shows the spacecraft's major systems are operating normally. The spacecraft's tumble rate is near zero, indicating it successfully used its electromagnetic torque rods to stabilize itself after ejection from Prox-1.

The mission team adjusted LightSail's internal clock and uplinked data to help the CubeSat determine where it is around the Earth, which is required for solar sailing. Mission ground stations at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Georgia Tech, and Purdue University have all received LightSail 2 data. Additionally, the SatNOGS worldwide ground station network has been tracking the spacecraft and capturing additional telemetry.

The mission's next steps include capturing test images to verify the cameras are working properly, exercising the momentum wheel to prepare for solar sailing, and deploying the dual-sided solar panels. 

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