LightSail - Flying to Other Worlds on Sunlight

by The Planetary Society
Vetted

Summary

Help get us to the launching pad for LightSail 1! Support the LightSail solar sail spacecraft to reach space on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch in 2016. Technologies created for LightSail may enable other small, interplanetary spacecraft to achieve success. The creation and launch of CubeSats is within reach of universities and other organizations that could once only dream of flying their own missions. Longer-term, solar sailing holds the promise of propelling other larger craft to other planets!
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Challenge

How can we travel to other planets and even other solar systems? By using the sun's rays! LightSail-1 is a solar sail project scheduled for launch in April 2016 and developed by The Planetary Society, a global non-profit organization devoted to space exploration. LightSail-1's goal is to test if solar sails are a viable form of space transport/propulsion.

Solution

In order for small spacecraft, such as CubeSats, and larger vessels to reach other planets, we need an inexpensive, efficient and 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.

Long-Term Impact

Technologies developed for LightSail may enable other small, interplanetary spacecraft to achieve success. The creation and launch of CubeSats is within reach of universities and other organizations that could once only dream of flying their own missions. Solar sailing and related techniques have been called the only practical way to reach other stars.

Resources

http:/​/​www.planetary.org
Project description and links to extensive blogs.

Organization Information

The Planetary Society

Location: Pasadena, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.planetary.org
Project Leader:
Richard Chute
Pasadena, CA United States

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