(Hat Tip: Space Spin)
Thanks to the donation of an anonymous donor, it looks as if the Planetary Society will be able to launch not one, but three (3!) solar sails over the next several years.
(The Planetary Society) LightSail is an innovative program that will launch three separate spacecraft over the course of several years, beginning with LightSail-1, which will demonstrate that sunlight alone can propel a spacecraft in Earth orbit. LightSails 2 and 3, more ambitious still, will reach farther into space.
“We are going to merge the ultra-light technology of nanosats with the ultra-large technology of solar sails in an audacious new program,” said Friedman.
Taking advantage of the technological advances in micro- and nano-spacecraft over the past five years, The Planetary Society will build LightSail-1 with three Cubesat spacecraft. One Cubesat will form the central electronics and control module, and two additional Cubesats will house the solar sail module. Cameras, additional sensors, and a control system will be added to the basic Cubesat electronics bus.
“To get sunlight to push us through space, we need a large sail attached to a small spacecraft. Lightsail-1 fits into a volume of just three liters before the sails ...