‘LightSail A’ accomplished its first challenging test mission to low Earth orbit, unfurling its 32 square meter mylar solar sail on June 7.
Image credit The Planetary Society
This amazing image of LightSail A, is from one of the bread loaf sized spacecraft’s fisheye cameras.
Sail out and visible to Earthbound observers before its last orbit, LightSail A reentered the atmosphere last weekend. Its succesful technology demonstration paves the way for the LightSail B spacecraft, scheduled for launch in April 2016. Once considered the stuff of science fiction, sailing through space was suggested 400 years ago by astronomer Johannes Kepler who observed comet tails blown by the solar wind. But modern solar sail designs, like the one tested by LightSail A, rely on the small but continuous pressure from sunlight itself for thrust.