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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 Has a New Launch Date!

Richard Chute • June 07, 2019

The official launch date is now no earlier than June 24th, and the launch window still opens at 11:30 p.m. eastern time.

What's the Difference between LightSail 1 and LightSail 2?

Jason Davis • June 05, 2019 • 4

While LightSail 1 and 2 look nearly identical at a glance, there are a few important hardware differences between the two spacecraft.

LightSail 2 Arrives in Florida

Jason Davis • May 30, 2019

Next Stop: Space!

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