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LightSail Press Kit

We are pleased to provide comprehensive multimedia resources to support your LightSail reporting process. Please find and use the following resources in our digital media kit: current news, archived past news releases, biographies, video, high-resolution photography for print and online purposes, and background information.

In addition to these resources, interviews with Planetary Society spokespeople are available upon request. To schedule an interview, or to be added to our media mailing list, please contact our Communications Manager Danielle Gunn at danielle.gunn@planetary.org or +1-626-793-5100.

All press materials are provided by The Planetary Society, unless otherwise credited.

Press Releases/Media Alerts

Solar Sail Spacecraft Contact Restored After Software Glitch Paused Communications (May 30, 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 now resumed contact after a suspected software glitch affected communications.

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

Bill Nye & Planetary Society Celebrate LightSail™ Spacecraft Test Launch (May 20, 2015)

The Planetary Society’s citizen-funded LightSail™ spacecraft has launched into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

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Background Information

LightSail 2 with solar panels closed
LightSail 2 with solar panels closed

The Planetary Society

LightSail 2 with solar panels open
LightSail 2 with solar panels open

The Planetary Society

LightSail 2 with solar sail deployed
LightSail 2 with solar sail deployed

The Planetary Society

The History of Solar Sailing
The History of Solar Sailing

The Planetary Society

LightSail 2 scale comparison (approximate)
LightSail 2 scale comparison (approximate)
Approximate size comparison of the LightSail 2 spacecraft with sails stowed and deployed.

The Planetary Society

High-Resolution Photography for Print and Online Purposes

Image usage policy: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. For additional publication permissions, please contact us.

Click thumbnails to enlarge.

LightSail 2 During Sail Deployment Sequence (Camera 1)

The Planetary Society

LightSail 2 During Sail Deployment Sequence (Camera 1)
This image was taken during the LightSail 2 sail deployment sequence on 23 July 2019 at 11:49 PDT (18:49 UTC). The sail is almost fully deployed here and appears warped near the edges due to the spacecraft's 185-degree fisheye camera lens. The image has been color corrected and some of the distortion has been removed. The Sun is visible at center, and pieces of spectraline, which were used to hold LightSail 2's solar panels closed, can be seen at 5 o'clock and 7 o'clock.
LightSail 2 Orbit Apogee and Perigee Since Launch

The Planetary Society / Data provided by NXTRAC

LightSail 2 Orbit Apogee and Perigee Since Launch
This chart shows LightSail 2’s orbit apogee and perigee since launch. From 26 July to 30 July, the spacecraft raised its orbital high point, or apogee, by about 2 kilometers. A PDF version of this chart is available.
LightSail 2 orbit raising

Josh Spradling / The Planetary Society

LightSail 2 orbit raising
This animation shows how LightSail 2 raises its orbit by making two 90-degree turns each orbit. As the spacecraft approaches the Sun, it turns the sail edge-on to avoid getting pushed by solar photons. As it moves away from the Sun, it turns perpendicular to incoming sunlight, giving it a push that gradually raises its orbit.
LightSail 2 During Sail Deployment Sequence (Camera 2)

The Planetary Society

LightSail 2 During Sail Deployment Sequence (Camera 2)
This image was taken during the LightSail 2 sail deployment sequence on 23 July 2019 at 11:48 PDT (18:48 UTC). Baja California and Mexico are visible in the background. LightSail 2's dual 185-degree fisheye camera lenses can each capture more than half of the sail. This image has been de-distorted and color corrected.
LightSail 2 Sail Deployment From Camera 1

The Planetary Society

LightSail 2 Sail Deployment From Camera 1
View of the deployment of half of LightSail 2's square sail from Camera 1, which happened on 23 July 2019 at 18:47 UTC. The animation runs at about 100 times actual speed.
LightSail 2 Sail Deployment From Camera 2

The Planetary Society

LightSail 2 Sail Deployment From Camera 2
View of the deployment of half of LightSail 2's square sail from Camera 2, which happened on 23 July 2019 at 18:47 UTC. The animation runs at about 100 times actual speed.
LightSail 2 Sail Deployment Thumbnails (Camera 1)

The Planetary Society

LightSail 2 Sail Deployment Thumbnails (Camera 1)
These images show the progression of LightSail 2’s solar sail deployment sequence, which began on 23 July 2019 at 18:47 UTC. They are all thumbnail images from Camera 1 with an original resolution of 120 by 90 pixels and have been de-distorted and color-corrected. The first 13 frames were taken at intervals of 10 seconds; the remaining ones at intervals of 30 seconds.
LightSail 2 Sail Deployment Thumbnails (Camera 2)

The Planetary Society

LightSail 2 Sail Deployment Thumbnails (Camera 2)
These images show the progression of LightSail 2’s solar sail deployment sequence, which began on 23 July 2019 at 18:47 UTC. They are all thumbnail images from Camera 2 with an original resolution of 120 by 90 pixels and have been de-distorted and color-corrected. The first 13 frames were taken at intervals of 10 seconds; the remaining ones at intervals of 30 seconds.
LightSail 2 Mission Control

LightSail 2 Mission Control
Cheers from Mission Control at CalPoly as LightSail 2 deploys its solar sails.
Crowd watching the launch of LightSail 2

Navid Baraty / The Planetary Society

Crowd watching the launch of LightSail 2
The crowd watched in awe as LightSail 2 launched atop the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket during the STP-2 mission on 25 June 2019.
LightSail 2
LightSail 2
The Planetary Society's LightSail 2 spacecraft sits on its deployment table following a successful day-in-the-life test at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on May 23, 2016.

Jason Davis / The Planetary Society

Posing for LightSail’s camera
Posing for LightSail’s camera
Bill Nye and the LightSail 2 team pose for a picture using the spacecraft’s camera.

Jason Davis / The Planetary Society

Ready for deployment
Ready for deployment
Bill Nye, CEO of The Planetary Society, waves to an overhead camera with digital editor Jason Davis. LightSail 2 sits on a deployment table behind Nye and Davis, moments before a sail deployment test.

Jason Davis / The Planetary Society

LightSail 1 updated solar sail selfie
LightSail 1 updated solar sail selfie
This image was captured by a camera aboard LightSail 1 on June 8, 2015, shortly after solar sail deployment. It was color-corrected by Dan Slater to remove the camera's artificial purplish tint based on ground test images, and is a closer approximation to what the human eye would see.

The Planetary Society

LightSail 2
LightSail 2
Artist's concept of LightSail 2 above Earth.

Josh Spradling / The Planetary Society

Bill Nye
Bill Nye

F. Scott Schafer

Bill Nye
Bill Nye

F. Scott Schafer

Bill Nye
Bill Nye

F. Scott Schafer

Bill Nye
Bill Nye

F. Scott Schafer

Additional images available in the LightSail Media Gallery and in our Bruce Murray Space Image Library.

Videos for Broadcast and Online Reporting Purposes

Credit: The Planetary Society

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Opening Solar Sails in Space

Cheer along with Bill Nye and the flight controllers as The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 spacecraft successfully deploys its solar sail in space.

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A new way to travel space - with Bill Nye

Did you know there's a way for spacecraft to travel farther, faster, and maybe one day reach other stars? Bill Nye is here to teach you about the game-changing technology called solar sailing.

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The Dream of Solar Sailing - LightSail 2

For centuries, people have dreamed of using solar sails to travel the cosmos. In 2019, The Planetary Society's LightSail 2 will help make that dream a reality by attempting the first, controlled solar sail flight in Earth orbit. The spacecraft was made possible thanks to the generous support of space enthusiasts from around the world.

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LightSail 2 Animation

This animation details the piece by piece construction of the LightSail 2 spacecraft as well as its maneuvers in space.

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The Planetary Society

LightSail 2 mission highlights
This video shows brief highlights from The Planetary Society's LightSail 2 mission.

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LightSail Then and Now

In 1976, Carl Sagan appeared on The Tonight Show to talk about a crazy new idea: solar sailing. Nearly 40 years later, The Planetary Society is realizing this dream with a new spacecraft called LightSail designed to propel through space on beams of sunlight.

High Resolution Video Files

Project Leaders

Interviews available upon request.

Bill Nye

Bill Nye isn't just the Science Guy—he's a Planetary Society charter member and has been The Planetary Society's CEO since 2010.
Bruce Betts

Dr. Bruce Betts is The Planetary Society's chief scientist, and the program manager for LightSail 2.
Jennifer Vaughn

Jennifer Vaughn is The Planetary Society's chief operating officer.
Jason Davis

Jason Davis is the editorial director for The Planetary Society. He oversees and contributes to the Society's editorial content, including articles, stories, educational web pages, images, infographics, podcasts and videos.

Blog Updates on LightSail

LightSail 2 Arrives in Florida

Jason Davis • May 30, 2019

Next Stop: Space!

LightSail Launch Event

Richard Chute • May 21, 2019

LightSail 2’s launch window opens on June 22, and we are finalizing plans for our launch viewing celebrations. Once we have finished coordinating the details with the Air Force’s STP-2 mission team and the Kennedy Space Center, we will share them with all of our members and backers so that you can join us in person or remotely via the internet.

LightSail 2 set to launch next month aboard SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket

Jason Davis • May 13, 2019

The Planetary Society's solar sail spacecraft will lift off 22 June 2019 on a mission to demonstrate the power of sunlight for propulsion.

LightSail 2 Integrated with Prox-1 Carrier Spacecraft

Jason Davis • May 09, 2019

The Planetary Society's solar sailing CubeSat is officially on the road to launch.

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Flies Again; LightSail 2 Is Next!

Jason Davis • April 11, 2019

SpaceX also went three-for-three on booster landings, marking another milestone for its Falcon Heavy rocket.

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