Jason Davis • Jun 19, 2019
Here's Our First Look at LightSail 2 Installed on SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Rocket
Behold: Our first picture of The Planetary Society's LightSail 2 spacecraft, all buttoned up and ready for its ride to orbit!
The golden suitcase-sized box you're looking at here is Prox-1, snugly attached to the stack of spacecraft that will sit atop SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket for launch. Sticking out the top of Prox-1 is the front door of a spring-loaded canister called a P-POD. LightSail 2 is inside the P-POD. A week after the Falcon Heavy deposits Prox-1 into space, the P-POD's front door will open, releasing LightSail 2.
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.
For context, here are two pictures from when LightSail 2 was integrated with Prox-1 last year. Here's the P-POD, with a red zip tie still attached as a failsafe in case the door popped open during transport:
And here's a picture from just before LightSail 2 was installed. Notice the long spring inside the P-POD:
Yesterday, SpaceX and the Air Force released a wide shot of the entire payload stack. The stack contains 24 spacecraft that are riding to orbit as part of the U.S. Air Force's STP-2 mission. In this image, you can't see Prox-1; it's on the back of the payload stack:
Launch of the Falcon Heavy and LightSail 2 is currently scheduled for no earlier than 24 June 2019, pending the outcome of today's static fire test. For more, see our LightSail 2 mission page and What to Expect When LightSail 2 Launches into Space article.
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