US spacecraft's solar sail successfully deploys
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) July 23, 2019
A new spacecraft's solar sail successfully deployed Tuesday one month after launch, as it journeys around earth carrying a small satellite.
LightSail 2, as the spacecraft is called, will harness the momentum of packets of light energy known as photons.
Its developer, the Planetary Society, a US organization that promotes space exploration, marked the occasion on Twitter with: "DEPLOYMENT COMPLETE!"
"All indications are that #LightSail2 has successfully deployed its solar sail!" it said, based on data sent back to Earth from the spacecraft. The organization added that forthcoming photographs would confirm the event later in the day.
LightSail 2's solar sail has an area of 32 square meters and is made from Mylar, a brand of polyester that has been on the market since the 1950s.
Planetary Society Director Bill Nye, famous in American pop-culture for his eponymous children's show "Bill Nye the Science Guy," told AFP last month that the solar sail is "a romantic idea whose time has finally come.
"We hope this technology catches on," he said.
The solar sail will remain in orbit around Earth and, if all goes as planned, will gradually increase its altitude thanks to pressure from solar radiation on the sail.
As per its role in the future, Nye says the solar sail could one day be employed to send robotic missions beyond our solar system. While the initial speed of a spacecraft would be slower than if equipped with a motor, it would accelerate continuously and ultimately reach extraordinary speeds.
LightSail 2 prepares to deploy sails, share new images of Earth
Washington (UPI) Jul 22, 2019
LightSail 2, a CubeSat developed by the Planetary Society, is preparing to deploy its solar sails. The miniature satellite, roughly the size of a toaster, will unfurl its sails at approximately 8:22 a.m. ET on Tuesday. The Planetary Society will offer live streaming coverage of the milestone, broadcasting mission control at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in California. Last week, mission engineers sent LightSail 2 the signal to go into solar sailing mode. The probe made a series of turns in to ... read more
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