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Jason DavisJune 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!

Prox-1 installed on Falcon Heavy

SpaceX

Prox-1 installed on Falcon Heavy
Prox-1, holding The Planetary Society's LightSail 2 spacecraft, is seen here installed on the payload stack for the U.S. Air Force's STP-2 mission. LightSail 2's P-POD—a small box the size of a loaf of bread—can be seen sticking out the top of Prox-1.
Prox-1 installed on Falcon Heavy (labeled)

SpaceX / The Planetary Society

Prox-1 installed on Falcon Heavy (labeled)
This image labels the position of The Planetary Society's LightSail 2 spacecraft inside Prox-1.

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.

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:

LightSail 2 enclosed within P-POD

Bruce Betts / The Planetary Society

LightSail 2 enclosed within P-POD
LightSail 2 enclosed in its P-POD.

And here's a picture from just before LightSail 2 was installed. Notice the long spring inside the P-POD:

LightSail 2 and P-POD before integration

Bruce Betts / The Planetary Society

LightSail 2 and P-POD before integration
LightSail 2 sits next to the P-POD that will carry it into space.

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:

STP-2 payload stack

SpaceX

STP-2 payload stack
This image shows several of the 24 spacecraft launching on the Air Force's STP-2 mission, which will also carry LightSail 2 to orbit. LightSail 2 and its carrier spacecraft, Prox-1, are not visible in this image.

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.

Read more: LightSail

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Jason Davis

Editorial Director for The Planetary Society
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