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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

Here's Our First Look at LightSail 2 Installed on SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Rocket

Jason Davis • June 19, 2019 • 2

LightSail 2 is one of 24 spacecraft hitching a ride to orbit as part of the U.S. Air Force's STP-2 mission.

What to Expect when LightSail 2 Launches into Space

Jason Davis • June 17, 2019 • 3

Our preview guide outlines the LightSail 2 mission from start to finish.

LightSail 2 Launch Viewing: Tips & Tricks

Justin Foley • June 15, 2019

LightSail 2 is launching on the next SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is one payload of many on the mission known collectively as STP-2. Space Test Program (STP) is a crucial part of the US Air Force’s development of advanced technologies in space.

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