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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. 

Replay the live announcement

Read the press release

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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 Spacecraft Successfully Demonstrates Flight by Light

Jason Davis • July 31, 2019 • 17

In the past 4 days, the spacecraft has raised its orbital high point, or apogee, by about 2 kilometers.

LightSail 2 Successfully Deploys Solar Sail

Jason Davis • July 24, 2019 • 7

Images from The Planetary Society's spacecraft confirm the solar sails deployed on 23 July 2019 at 11:47 PDT (18:47 UTC).

Live Coverage: LightSail 2 Sail Deployment

Jason Davis • July 19, 2019 • 9

Visit planetary.org/live for video and audio from mission control, located at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in California.

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