LightSail deployment scheduled for Tuesday

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Assuming all goes well with the orbital preparations today, LightSail will perform its test deployment on Tuesday at 11:44 am.

If successful, this deployment will achieve several significant engineering firsts, the most important of which will be to have demonstrated that a cubesat can be used for such a task. Proving that fact will increase their commercial usefulness for future space endeavors.


  • BSJ

    What is the objective of this mission? Just deploy the sail, or is the sail supposed to be used to change the orbit or something?

  • The objective is to test the deployment, not use the sail. They can’t test the deployment technique on the ground, but need it to be in orbit to do so. Hence this engineering flight.

    It might be that they will try to use the sail afterward, but I suspect not, as it is in a low orbit that will decay quickly.

  • Tom Billings

    To expect to climb the gravity well from LEO with a lightsail will require sails built *in*orbit*, and made sacred. “Holy” sails are going to be sails made as Freeman Dyson proposed some decades back. Take a Drexlerian sail made by vaporizing aluminum onto a smooth sheet of frozen water, above about 30 nanometers thickness. Drill closely spaced holes in this sail with electron beams small enough that 95+% of the light still reflects from what is left as “aluminum chicken wire”. This will allow air molecules to pass through the sails at LEO altitudes, eliminating the vast majority of the drag of standard lightsails.

    This demonstration is about deployment. Cubesats that can *make* lightsails *in*orbit* should be the next step!

  • PeterF

    wouldn’t they be more properly “holey”?

  • Tom Billings

    Awww, you’re no fun! ;-)

  • Jeff Poplin

    Deployment now scheduled for Wednesday, June 3.

    Test images from camera are coming in.

  • pzatchok

    I am just not a fan of the light sail idea.

    It can not work outside the solar system. Not enough light for thrust effect.

    And the use of it inside the solar system is extremely limited.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *