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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 Sail Deployment Scheduled for Tuesday

Jason Davis • July 19, 2019

The target ground station pass for deployment starts 23 July 2019 at roughly 11:22 PDT (18:22 UTC).

LightSail 2 Team Continues Tweaks and Tests for Sail Deployment

Jason Davis • July 17, 2019 • 3

Spare bandwidth during ground station passes has allowed flight controllers to downlink 2 new high-resolution images.

LightSail 2 Team to Conduct More Testing before Sail Deployment

Jason Davis • July 09, 2019 • 3

Sail deployment is now scheduled for no earlier than 21 July 2019.

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