LightSail 2 Just Deployed Its Sails in Space, and It's a Glorious Moment for Science

LightSail 2 CubeSat showing deployment of antenna and solar panels. SpaceX Falcon Heavy Arabsat 6a Launch in background. (souce: Planetary Society)

LightSail 2 CubeSat showing deployment of antenna and solar panels. SpaceX Falcon Heavy Arabsat 6a Launch in background. (souce: Planetary Society)

LightSail 2 CubeSat showing solar sail deployed. SpaceX Falcon Heavy Arabsat 6a Launch in background. (souce: Planetary Society)

LightSail 2 CubeSat showing solar sail deployed. SpaceX Falcon Heavy Arabsat 6a Launch in background. (souce: Planetary Society)

Artist's concept of LightSail 2 in orbit around earth. (source: Planetary Society)

Artist's concept of LightSail 2 in orbit around earth. (source: Planetary Society)

LightSail 2 captured this image of its deployed solar sail and Earth on 31 July 2019 at 16:31 UTC, as the spacecraft was passing over the Pacific Ocean. (source: Planetary Society)

LightSail 2 captured this image of its deployed solar sail and Earth on 31 July 2019 at 16:31 UTC, as the spacecraft was passing over the Pacific Ocean. (source: Planetary Society)

August 12, 2019 | Source: Universe Today, universetoday.com, Evan Gough, 23 July 2019

LightSail 2 has successfully deployed its solar sails. Shortly after 12:00 pm PST (19:00 UTC) The Planetary Society tweeted that the sails were deployed, and that the spacecraft was sailing with sunlight.

We can all enjoy their success and start to wonder how solar sails will fit into humanity's plans for space exploration.

This is a dramatic moment for LightSail 2 and for The Planetary Society, the world's largest non-profit space organization.

LightSail 2 is the third spacecraft in their LightSail program. It was launched on June 25, and has been in orbit since then, preparing for sail deployment and sending us some sweet pictures of Earth.

A series of tweets from The Planetary Society told the tale throughout the morning.

LightSail 2's sail is actually a system of four smaller triangular sails that make one large square when deployed. Once deployed, the sail measures 32 sq. meters, or 340 sq. ft. Once it's deployed, it can be used to raise the spacecraft's orbit, demonstrating the power and usefulness of solar sails.


Related Links

LightSail - Flight by Light for CubeSats, Planetary Society - LightSail® is a crowdfunded solar sail project from The Planetary Society. Our LightSail 2 spacecraft, launched 25 June 2019, is the first spacecraft in Earth orbit propelled solely by sunlight. On 31 July 2019, we announced we had officially raised LightSail 2’s orbit by a measurable amount, showing that solar sailing is a viable means of propulsion for CubeSats—small, standardized spacecraft that are part of a global effort to lower the cost of space exploration.

The Planetary Society has championed solar sailing for decades. In 2005 we launched the world’s first solar sailing spacecraft, Cosmos 1, which was lost due to a rocket failure. Ten years later in 2015, our LightSail 1 spacecraft successfully completed a test flight. LightSail 2 launched on 25 June 2019 and deployed its solar sail on 23 July 2019.

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