Tomorrow morning launch of LightSail 2, the "light" space sail
It will demonstrate that solar-powered space navigation is possible -VIDEO
The launch of the LightSail 2 space sail, the "light sail" designed to demonstrate how space propulsion is based on sunlight will take place at 5:30 am Italian time tomorrow. The sail will be taken into orbit by SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, which will also carry 24 satellites on behalf of the United States Defense. LightSail2, created after 14 years of research by the American The Planetary Society, will be launched by the "Kennedy Space Center" in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and brought to about 700 kilometers from the Earth -according to a note released in these hours-, aiming to become the first spacecraft in Earth's orbit powered solely by sunlight.
It will be integrated into a small satellite called Prox-1 built by Georgia Tech students. Seven days after the launch, Prox-1 will release LightSail 2. At that point the vehicle will open its four solar panels or semi-sails, so four metal arms will unroll the four semi-triangular solar sails.
The project is funded by the crowdfunding of The Planetary Society and has been carried out since 2005; in 2015 the LightSail 1 prototype was successfully tested. The objective is to increase the orbit of LightSail 2 by a measurable amount, demonstrating that solar navigation is a viable route for CubeSats, a small standardized space ship that is part of one global effort to reduce the cost of space exploration.
The Planetary Society launched in 2005 the first solar sailing spaceship in the world, the Cosmos 1, which however was lost due to the failure of a rocket. It was then the turn of the LightSail 1, and tomorrow of the LightSail 2, part of the UsAir Force STP-2 mission.
Below, the video explains LightSail 2:
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