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LightSail

Flight by light for CubeSats

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LightSail-1 has a launch date! The Planetary Society's solar sailing spacecraft is scheduled to launch aboard the SpaceX Falcon Heavy in April 2016. 

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CubeSats are tiny, low-cost satellites that have opened up new avenues of space research for universities and small organizations.

In order for CubeSat applications to reach the next level, the miniature satellites need a reliable form of propulsion for orbital maneuvers and trips beyond our planet. This is where solar sailing—transferring the momentum of photons to a large reflective sail—comes in. The technology was successfully used by Japan’s IKAROS mission in 2010, and NASA’s NanoSail-D test-deployed a CubeSat solar sail in Earth orbit later that year.

In 2016, The Planetary Society’s LightSail program will take the technology a step further. LightSail-1 will attempt to demonstrate controlled solar sailing—flight by light—for CubeSats.

Project updates

LightSail 2 Enters Extended Mission Phase

The Planetary Society • June 17, 2020 • 2

One year after launch, The Planetary Society’s solar sail spacecraft is embarking on an extended mission dedicated to further advancing solar sailing technology.

Ten New Pictures from LightSail 2

The Planetary Society • May 04, 2020

Images from around the globe, plus some night pictures and the spacecraft's solar panels.

Your Impact

The Planetary Report • March Equinox 2020

Celebrating Shoemaker Grant winners, Society awards, and volunteer efforts around the world.

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