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Mission Photos:

LightSail satellite
(image credit: Planetary Society)

Mission Objectives:

LightSail is a citizen-funded project by The Planetary Society, the world's largest non-profit space advocacy group. Two small spacecraft will be sent into Earth orbit carrying large, reflective sails measuring 32 square meters (344 square feet). The first mission is a May 2015 test flight that will pave the way for a second, full-fledged solar sailing demonstration in 2016. LightSail-1 will demonstrate the deployment of a 32 m2 solar sail from a 3-unit CubeSat platform. LightSail-2 will demonstrate controlled solar sailing in low-Earth orbit.

SLR will be utilized to perform spacecraft orbit determination before and after solar sail deployment. Without an onboard GPS receiver, SLR is the primary orbit determination method.

Mission Instrumentation:

LightSail satellites will have the following onboard:

  • 10 solar panels
  • Two 2 Mpixel cameras mounted at the end of two of the solar panels
  • Four sun sensors mounted at the end of four of the solar panels
  • Six tiny ultra-sensitive accelerometers
  • Retroreflector array
Mission Parameters:
Satellite: LightSail-1 LightSail-2
Sponsor: The Planetary Society The Planetary Society
Expected Life: 6 weeks 6 weeks
Primary Applications: Demonstrate viability of solar sails Demonstrate controlled solar sailing in low-Earth orbit
Primary SLR Applications: Orbit determination Orbit determination
COSPAR ID: 1502511 1903629
SIC Code: 4201 4202
Satellite Catalog (NORAD) Number: 40661 44420
Launch Date: May 20, 2015 June 25, 2019
NP Bin Size: 30 seconds 15 seconds
RRA Shape: Hemispherical/Pyramid
Cube Diameter: 4x 10.0mm, 3x 12.7mm 12.7 mm
Reflectors: 7 corner cubes 13 corner cubes
Inclination: 55 degrees 24 degrees
Eccentricity: 0.0253 0
Altitude: 350 km x 700 km 720 km
Mass: ~ 4.5 kg 5.035 kg

Additional Information:

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