Mission Control Center

LightSail mission patch

Latest Articles

Louis Friedman with Cosmos 1

Planetary Society solar sails paved way for Alpha Centauri starshot
A new initiative to send a fleet of tiny spacecraft to Alpha Centauri is connected to The Planetary Society through its founders and efforts to advance solar sailing technology.

Testing LightSail 2

LightSail 2 engineers continue to test for success
It's been a busy two months of system testing for The Planetary Society's LightSail 2 spacecraft. More trials are on the horizon, including a trip to a special magnetic cage at Utah State University's Space Dynamics Laboratory.

LightSail mini-DVD location

Selfies, messages and names delivered for LightSail 2 flight
A miniature DVD containing images of space fans and names of Planetary Society members and supporters is ready to fly in space.

LightSail 2 boom fiducial with Planetary logo

Rulers in space! LightSail 2 equipped with boom fiducials
How will we tell if LightSail 2's booms are fully deployed? With fiducials—visual reference guides that feature our signature Planetary Society logo.

LightSail sail deployment test

Meet LightSail 2, The Planetary Society's new solar sailing CubeSat
The Planetary Society's solar sailing CubeSat has a new designation: LightSail 2. To celebrate the name change, we're releasing a new video showing footage from a late January sail deployment at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

LightSail-B with solar sails deployed

First Look: Newest LightSail Spacecraft Unfurls Solar Sails
The Planetary Society's LightSail spacecraft successfully deployed its solar sails Thursday, wrapping up an initial round of system-level tests to prepare the CubeSat for flight.

Spacecraft in a box

Upgraded LightSail Software Completes First Round of Flight Testing
LightSail has completed its first round of flight testing. The spacecraft is now armed with new software that will transmit almost three times as much health and status data back to Earth than it did during last year's test flight.

LightSail team at test readiness review

LightSail Program Wraps Busy Year with Test Readiness Review
On Monday, LightSail engineers and mission managers met at The Planetary Society's Pasadena, California headquarters to prepare for a rigorous suite of spacecraft tests that are expected to begin in January.

LightSail-B on the bench

In Pictures: LightSail Cameras Prepped for Flight
LightSail's flight cameras are being prepped for installation after receiving a software upgrade and checkout from their manufacturer.

P-POD fit check

LightSail Deployer Passes Prox-1 Fit Check
At Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo engineers loaded a P-POD replica into the partially assembled frame of the Prox-1 spacecraft. The meetup was a fit check to make sure the two pieces of hardware fit together as designed.

Prox-1 integration and testing

LightSail and Prox-1 Start Testing and Integration Process
On opposite sides of the United States, teams are starting the testing process to prepare two spacecraft for a one-of-a-kind in-space rendezvous.

LightSail centered with Milky Way thumbnail

LightSail Gets Backup Burn Wire for 2016 Mission
LightSail's burn wire, the mission-critical component responsible for releasing the spacecraft's solar panels, will get a backup ahead of next year's solar sailing mission.

United States from NOAA 19

How to Download Weather Satellite Images from Space
For less than $50, you can download images from NOAA satellites using your laptop and a small radio antenna.

LightSail orbit raising strategy

A Kilometer Per Day: LightSail Mission Managers Refine Orbit-Raising Plan
LightSail will spiral away from Earth by about one kilometer per day, according to the latest orbital estimates by Georgia Tech's Space Systems Design Laboratory.

New LightSail corner cube array (draft design)

LightSail Lands New Hardware for Laser Ranging
A cluster of small mirrors will be added to LightSail's aft hull to allow engineers to precisely track its position as it sails around the planet next year.

LightSail centered with Milky Way thumbnail

LightSail Nominated for SmallSat Mission of the Year
The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft has been nominated for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Small Satellite Technical Committee Mission of the Year 2015 award.

LightSail Workshop July 2015

LightSail Workshop Recaps Lessons Learned from Test Mission
The LightSail team held a workshop in Pasadena to discuss lessons learned from the test mission and plan for the second flight in 2016.

Prox-1

LightSail Project Manager Passes Torch
LightSail project manager Doug Stetson, who helped bring the program from a storage shelf to low-Earth orbit, is passing the torch.

MMT System, Kazan State University, Russia

Thank You, LightSail Trackers
A thank-you to all the space enthusiasts who helped track LightSail during its 25-day test mission.

LightSail with solar sails deployed

LightSail Test Mission Ends with Fiery Reentry
The LightSail test mission is officially over. Following a 25-day stay in low-Earth orbit, the spacecraft tumbled back into Earth’s atmosphere Sunday afternoon.

LightSail from Santa Cruz, June 9, 10:52 UTC

In Pictures: LightSail’s Final Days in Space
LightSail’s brief stay in orbit is almost over. Here are a few photos and videos of the spacecraft from observers around the world.

LightSail sails-out image 2 (partially complete)

Pretty (Partial) Picture: LightSail Catches a Glimpse of Earth
With the team still trying to download an image from LightSail's second camera, Emily Lakdawalla processed a partial image from the first camera that contains a slice of Earth.

LightSail with solar sails deployed

LightSail Test Mission Declared Success; First Image Complete
The Planetary Society’s LightSail test mission successfully completed its primary objective of deploying a solar sail in low-Earth orbit.

LightSail partially downloaded sail image

Sails in Space: Partial Photo, Video and Light Curve
It’s official: The sails are out. This afternoon, LightSail mission controllers downlinked a partial image of the spacecraft’s solar sails in space.

LightSail centered with Milky Way thumbnail

Deployment! LightSail Boom Motor Whirrs to Life
LightSail's tiny solar sail deployment motor sprung to life Sunday afternoon, marking an important milestone for The Planetary Society’s nail-biting test mission.

LightSail centered with Milky Way thumbnail

LightSail Drama Continues as Spacecraft Wakes for Second Time
LightSail is back in business, following the second extended outage of the test spacecraft’s mission. The CubeSat checked in at 2:21 p.m. EDT Saturday.

LightSail spreads its sails

LightSail Falls Silent; Battery Glitch Suspected
The LightSail test spacecraft fell silent for a second time, less than a day after completing what appeared to be a successful solar panel deployment.

LightSail PSCAM

LightSail Solar Panel Deployment: No Pics, but Data Look Good
LightSail didn’t send home pretty pictures of Earth today, but it did relay promising signs that its deployable solar panels swung successfully out into space.

LightSail camera test image 1 complete

LightSail Deployment Update: Panels Wednesday, Sails Friday
LightSail Mission Managers have decided to split the spacecraft’s sail deployment sequence into two segments, following an extended checkout period that wrapped up Tuesday.