Planetary Society's LightSail 2 Hits the Heavens

Published : Friday, June 28, 2019 | 4:38 AM

The Pasadena-based Planetary Society’s baby has been delivered.

Hauled into the heavens by SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, LightSail 2 was deposited in space following a June 24 launch from Florida’s Cape Canaveral.

“My friend, did you see?” said Bill Nye, the Society’s chief executive officer. “LightSail 2 is in space!”

Nye said he’d watched the launch with other Planetary Society members and supporters of the citizen-funded project designed to test solar sailing for CubeSats.

“Now we await LightSail 2’s deployment, set for July 2,” Nye continued. “Learn more about what to expect next.”

The Planetary Society did not respond to Pasadena Now’s request for comment, but presumably “deployment” refers to when the loaf-sized CubeSat literally lets out it sails.

Those sails are designed to catch light momentum, which carries photons, which have no mass, yet possess momentum. The sail, hopefully, will propel the satellite in this manner.

LightSail 1 confirmed the possibility of solar sail deployment. LightSail 2 will attempt to move the CubSat remotely.

“LightSail 2 is a powerful example of what is possible when people come together in support of space exploration,” he concluded.

SpaceX is a private spaceflight company. It is in the business of floating satellites and delivering cargo to the International Space Station. It is the brainchild of Elon Musk, he of PayPal, Zip2, and Tesla fame.

The Planetary Society is the world’s largest independent space interest organization. It was founded by the legendary Carl Sagan and is now headed by Nye, a well-known advocate for science in the mass media. Its headquarters building is at 60 South Los FRobles Avenue. For more, see http://www.planetary.org/.

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