Bill Nye & The Planetary Society Issue LightSail™ Test Mission Update

Solar Sail Spacecraft Silenced, Software Glitch Suspected, Team Awaits Reboot

Press Statement
May 26, 2015

Erin Greeson
Phone: +1-626-793-5100

Pasadena, Ca. (May 26, 2015) – After a successful launch into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket out of Cape Canaveral, The Planetary Society’s LightSail™ spacecraft went silent after two days of communications. The solar sailing spacecraft test mission, a precursor to a 2016 mission, has been paused while engineers explore a suspected software glitch that is believed to have affected communications. A reboot is necessary to continue the mission. Upon reboot, the LightSail team may initiate manual deployment of the spacecraft’s Mylar® solar sails. Bill Nye (The Science Guy), CEO at The Planetary Society, issued the following statement:

"A problem like this teaches you more about your spacecraft than a mission that’s trouble-free. This is our test flight, and we have a healthy spacecraft in a stable orbit. Soon, we expect our little LightSail to reboot on its own, and we can get down to business up there. After 39 years, I can hang in for a few more weeks."

For in-depth coverage of LightSail’s test and 2016 missions, follow embedded reporter, Jason Davis at

Related Recent News

Blog post (May 26, 2015): Software Glitch Pauses LightSail Test Mission

Press release (May 20, 2015): Bill Nye & Planetary Society Celebrate LightSail™ Spacecraft Test Launch; Citizen-funded solar sail CubeSat in orbit, awaits sail deployment stage

Media Resources 

Visit the LightSail Press Kit for resources available for media usage, including: videos, photography, biographies and press releases.


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About The Planetary Society

With a global community of more than 2 million space enthusiasts, The Planetary Society is the world’s largest and most influential space advocacy organization. Founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman and today led by CEO Bill Nye, we empower the public to take a meaningful role in advancing space exploration through advocacy, education outreach, scientific innovation, and global collaboration. Together with our members and supporters, we’re on a mission to explore worlds, find life off Earth, and protect our planet from dangerous asteroids. To learn more, visit