LightSail Spacecraft Has Glitchy But Successful Test Mission
The Planetary Society's LightSail, a solar sail that moves using sunlight, finally deployed Sunday after weeks of glitches and setbacks.By Steven Sparkman | June 7, 2015
On Sunday, a private organization of space enthusiasts was able to claim its first major victory in well over a decade of developing solar sail technology.
For weeks, the project has seen glitches, software problems, repeated shutdowns and even an unlikely save by a passing bit of solar radiation, but The Planetary Society's Lightsail spacecraft was finally able to deploy its sails Sunday, condemning the budget solar sail to a swift and fiery death in Earth's atmosphere.
That part, at least, was planned. The spacecraft that's been keeping so many Planetary Society engineers on their toes recently is a prototype, destined for a short mission that will help sort out the bugs before a longer mission scheduled for next year.