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The Planetary Society, the world’s largest non-profit space interest group, today declared the LightSail test mission a success. After 19 days in orbit, the CubeSat spacecraft deployed its Mylar® solar sails in space.
After a successful launch into orbit, The Planetary Society’s LightSail™ spacecraft embarked on a solar sailing test mission as a precursor to a 2016 mission. Complete test mission success hinges on the deployment of LightSail’s Mylar® solar sails. LightSail experts will present sail deployment outcomes and offer a period for media questions.
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.
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.
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.
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.