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Stories, updates, insights, and original analysis from The Planetary Society.

LightSail Launch Event

LightSail 2’s launch window opens on June 22, and we are finalizing plans for our launch viewing celebrations. Once we have finished coordinating the details with the Air Force’s STP-2 mission team and the Kennedy Space Center, we will share them with all of our members and backers so that you can join us in person or remotely via the internet.

NEA Scout unfurls solar sail for full-scale test

The next time its solar sail is deployed, NEA Scout will be out near the Moon.

NASA, international partners consider solar sail for Deep Space Gateway

A Canadian Space Agency proposal would install a solar sail on the outside of the Deep Space Gateway, a miniature space station in lunar orbit.

SLS CubeSats to Set Sail for Deep Space

When SLS launches Orion to the moon in 2018, a fleet of deep space CubeSats will come along for the ride, including a solar sailing spacecraft similar to LightSail.

Planetary CubeSats Begin to Come of Age

Van Kane rounds up some recent planetary mission concepts based on CubeSat technology.

LightSail update: Launch dates

I’m excited to report some big news on The Planetary Society’s LightSail project: actual launch dates on actual launch vehicles!

LightSail presented at Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium

Chris Biddy from Stellar Exploration Inc. presented information about our LightSail project at the 2012 Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium.

Visiting a Solar Sail in the OC

The city of Tustin is about an hour's drive from Planetary Society HQ in Pasadena. That's when the freeway gods are kind, which they never are. The trip I made there yesterday was well worth the trouble.

A new trick for IKAROS: Spinning the other way

JAXA's solar sail demonstration craft IKAROS is still puttering along, 17 months after it launched, and its controllers back on Earth keep coming up with new things to try with it. I'm pretty amazed by the most recent trick: reversing its spin direction. This may not sound like a big deal, but it is, especially for IKAROS.

Testing Sail Deployment

The first full scale deployment of the Planetary Society's LightSail 1 solar sail was conducted on March 4, 2011 at Stellar Exploration in San Luis Obispo, California.

LightSail 1 on NASA Short List for Upcoming Launch

NASA announced that the Planetary Society’s LightSail 1 solar sail mission is on their short list for upcoming launch opportunities. The missions selected are CubeSats destined for piggyback launches as part of NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative.

Nanosail-D released into space

NASA's Nanosail-D spacecraft surprised everyone, including its controllers, by suddenly deploying from its parent FASTSAT spacecraft and beginning its mission in space.

It's Alive! It's Alive!

It was once thought lost in space, but it looks like NanoSail-D has ejected from its FastSat carrier and is preparing for deployment.

LightSail Update: The International Solar Sailing Symposium

Japan's IKAROS team stole the show at the International Solar Sailing Symposium in New York City, where they announced that their spacecraft had achieved controlled solar sail flight.

LightSail team learns from IKAROS

While we were in New York for the International Solar Sailing Symposium last week, we held a meeting with the Japanese IKAROS team to discuss technical results and issues in our two projects.

From the Solar Sail Symposium in New York

This week, Bill Nye and I are attending the International Solar Sail Symposium at the New York College of Technology.

IKAROS Begins Attitude Control

The IKAROS spacecraft continues to perform its mission well as its team at the Japan Space Exploration Center moves closer to the first fully controlled solar sail flight.

LightSail 1 Passes Critical Design Review

LightSail 1, the Planetary Society's new ultra-light Cubesat-based solar sail spacecraft, has passed its Critical Design Review.

IKAROS' deployable camera captures perfect sail photos and animation!

We've already seen IKAROS' view of its deployed sails from cameras attached to the spacecraft, but, in a brilliant idea, the Japanese built IKAROS with two deployable cameras that could view the thing from a distance.

IKAROS: Successful sail deployment and solar power generation! Hooray!!

JAXA finally issued the formal announcement: they successfully expanded IKAROS' square sail!

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