The most powerful rocket used in the space industry, or Falcon Heavy from SpaceX, has reached the orbit of LightSail 2, a demonstrator of solar propulsion technology that will allow you to conduct cheap missions.
The Planetary Society informed that the experiment follows the thoughts of its organizers. Yesterday (23.07) the microsatellite set itself in the direction of the sun and the release and distribution of the sail took place, and thus the most breakneck part of the whole mission began. The organization also published images of our beautiful planet made by the device. Flatheaders will be disappointed because the Earth is round on them.
LightSail 2 consists of four small sails made of a material called Mylar. Together they have an area of 32 square meters. The sail does not have its own drive. According to the plan, it is to travel on Earth’s orbit, pushed by photons from our daily star.
The association wants the device to fly around our planet. If we succeed, we can talk about a real revolution in the missions of small space installations. The lack of the need to install a drive in microsatellites will not only drastically reduce the costs of space missions, but will also speed up the construction of devices and will prolong their operation in orbit.
Plans for the use of such propulsion in space ships appeared in the 1930s, but then it was pure science fiction. The Planetary Society in 2015 conducted the test of the first prototype LightSail 1. Then it was not without problems, but eventually the device according to the plan entered the atmosphere and burned over the southern Atlantic.
Researchers collected valuable data that allowed them to build a new prototype. Now an association made in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman will carry out another experiment. This time the sail will be more advanced. The LightSail 2 mission started on June 25. The device flew into orbit on board the Falcon Heavy rocket from SpaceX as part of the STP-2 mission for the US Department of Defense.