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'LightSail 2' deploys its solar sail in Earth's orbit

Posted on Wednesday, 24 July, 2019 | Comment icon 5 comments

A concept image of LightSail 2 deployed high above the Earth. Image Credit: YouTube / The Planetary Society
The experimental project could one day make it possible for solar sails to propel spacecraft to other worlds.
Developed by The Planetary Society, the solar sail was launched in to orbit on June 25th aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket with the ultimate goal of demonstrating controlled solar sailing in space.

Now, almost a month later, the sails themselves - which are a mere 4.5 micrometers thick but cover an area of 32 square meters - have successfully unfurled 720km above the Earth.

When solar particles hit the sails a small amount of thrust is produced, propelling the spacecraft along. While the push is initially very weak, the momentum will slowly but surely build up over time.

In the future, solar sails could make it possible for spacecraft to travel large distances through space without the need for a traditional propulsion system or fuel supply.

Source: New Scientist | Comments (5)

Tags: Solar Sail

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Desertrat56 on 24 July, 2019, 17:43
That is very cool.  I have read a few Sci Fi novels where the technology for space travel included something like this.
Comment icon #2 Posted by OverSword on 24 July, 2019, 19:39
A craft called a Bajoran Lightship with solar sails was featured in an episode of Deep Space 9.  Everything you need to know can be learned from Star Trek.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Seti42 on 24 July, 2019, 20:34
I'd recommend googling "Bajoran Lightship" as well. It's a beautiful design. One of the best Trek ever has done, and definitely on my top 10 list of coolest sci-fi ship designs. Star Trek's awesomeness extends beyond science and engineering inspiration too. The moral/ethical and philosophical lessons there are also things everyone should be exposed to.
Comment icon #4 Posted by GLCsector3295 on 24 July, 2019, 22:04
saw the article on yahoo, was interesting, glad someone finally made and tested this, i think it was  crowdfunded as well which is pretty cool for people to see their money actually doing something. hopefully it becomes something bigger and better down the road.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Trelane on 25 July, 2019, 16:34
Truly amazing technology involved. I am curious though about its sustainability/serviceability across vast distances.

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