Launched into space last week aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the crowdfunded LightSail 2 solar spacecraft left Prox-1, its carrier vehicle, and transmitted the first signals back to Earth. This 11 ponund cubesat is designed to prove that solar sailing is a practical way of keeping satellites moving, so future missions into the deep space can be propelled by photons, or particles of light released by the sun, rather than fuel. Read more for another video and additional information.
The team at Planetary Society successfully received a message on July 2 confirming that the spacecraft was healthy as it passed over the satellite’s mission control at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. The signals were received from LightSail 2’s recently deployed radio antenna. “We’re all very happy — after years of preparation, we are flying an operational spacecraft!,” said Bruce Betts, LightSail program manager and Planetary Society chief scientist.