& # 39; We are sailing on sunlight! & # 39; Crowdfunded spacecraft is unfolding its sun sail into an important milestone

& # 39; We are sailing on sunlight! & # 39; Crowdfunded spacecraft unfolds its solar sail in milestone bid to be the first satellite propelled by LIGHT of the sun

  • Planetary Society launched its crowdfunded LightSail 2 spacecraft on 25 June
  • The shade sail is only 4.5 microns thick, or less than the width of a human hair
  • The deployment of the sails started at 11:47 AM PT (2:47 PM ET) and was finished in a few minutes
  • Craft will then have to increase its job to prove the viability of the propulsion method
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A Mylar sail of about five thousandths of a centimeter thick has been successfully used in the orbit, which could be an important step forward for cheap satellite propulsion.

The Planetary Society launched its LightSail2 spacecraft aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at the end of June hoping to put the first ever solar-powered aircraft in orbit.

The vessel consists of a CubeSat that is about the size of a loaf of bread and a now unrolled shade sail that is more than 18 feet wide.

Scientists revealed the progress of the mission from minute to minute in a live streamed event on Tuesday afternoon.

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A Mylar sail of about five thousandths of a centimeter thick has been successfully used in the orbit, which could be an important step forward for cheap satellite propulsion. (Impression of the artist)

A Mylar sail of about five thousandths of a centimeter thick has been successfully used in the orbit, which could be an important step forward for cheap satellite propulsion. (Impression of the artist)

"Sailing implementation completed! We sail on sunlight! "Tweeted the Planetary Society after confirming the performance.

LightSail2 embodies a propulsion technology that is conceptually hundreds of years old and was brought out into the open in the 1970s by esteemed scientist and educator, Carl Sagan.

It requires no fuel and is instead driven by photons – or light particles – emitted by the sun.

Due to the design of the vessel, the enormous sun sail reflects these particles and pushes the momentum with its CubeSat in tow.

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The implementation officially began at 11:47 PM PT (2:47 PM ET) when the team tweeted to say the engine was running, and it was said and done in minutes.

Scientists revealed the progress of the mission from minute to minute in a live streamed event on Tuesday afternoon

Scientists revealed the progress of the mission from minute to minute in a live streamed event on Tuesday afternoon

Scientists revealed the progress of the mission from minute to minute in a live streamed event on Tuesday afternoon

But the process required all hands on deck.

"Sail implementation is a two-step manual procedure initiated by the ground system team," the team explained on Twitter.

The LightSail 2 spacecraft is sitting on its insert during testing in 2016
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The LightSail 2 spacecraft is sitting on its insert during testing in 2016

The LightSail 2 spacecraft is sitting on its insert during testing in 2016

"First the team must arm the sail & # 39; & # 39; for deployment and then send the command to deploy the sail. If everything goes well, telemetry should increase the number of engines. & # 39;

The team confirmed the bet was around 11:50 am PT (2.50 pm ET), when telemetry data showed that the engine had reached the target number.

Now that the sail is open, it must prove that it can actually pull a small spacecraft with only the power of the sun.

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"The goal is to increase LightSail 2's orbit by a measurable amount, demonstrating that solar-powered sailing is a viable propellant for CubeSats," the Planetary Society said.

WHAT IS LIGHTSAIL2?

The Planetary Society launched its LightSail2 spacecraft aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at the end of June hoping to put the first ever solar-powered aircraft in orbit.

The vessel consists of a CubeSat that is about the size of a bread and a solar-powered sail that is more than 18 feet wide.

It requires no fuel and is instead driven by photons – or light particles – emitted by the sun.

Due to the design of the vessel, the enormous sun sail reflects these particles and pushes the momentum with its CubeSat in tow.

LightSail2 embodies a propulsion technology that is conceptually hundreds of years old and brought to the public in the 1970s by esteemed scientist and educator, Carl Sagan
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LightSail2 embodies a propulsion technology that is conceptually hundreds of years old and brought to the public in the 1970s by esteemed scientist and educator, Carl Sagan

LightSail2 embodies a propulsion technology that is conceptually hundreds of years old and brought to the public in the 1970s by esteemed scientist and educator, Carl Sagan

LightSail 2: Specs (with sails deployed)

Size comparison: Boxing ring

Sailing material: Mylar

Sail thickness: 4.5 microns (less than the width of a human hair)

Length of boom: 4 m (13 ft)

Sail width: 5.6 m (18.4 ft)

Total sail area: 32 m2 (344 m2)

Sail layout: Four triangular sails that form a square connected to cobalt alloy trees that unwind as tape measures

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