Sailing on Sunlight – Lightsail 2

The spacecraft Lightsail 2 is the first spacecraft to use the sun as a propulsion system – but not with solar panels.

Earth from TPS LightSail 2 by Kevin M. Gill is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Earth from TPS LightSail 2” by Kevin M. Gill is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The spacecraft Lightsail 2 is the first spacecraft to use the sun as a propulsion system – but not with solar panels.

The Lightsail 2 was launched by The Planetary Society, and it runs on photons from the sun pushing on its sail. The date it was launched is the 25th of June, 2019. It was demonstrating controlled earth orbit at over 720 kilometers above orbital altitude. Each of its batteries have a maximum of 4 volts stored in them to transmit data back to earth, and it is currently above africa (at the 15th of march, 2021). Lightsail 2’s current speed is 549 kilometers a hour, or 0.15 of a kilometer a second. This is faster than most racing cars, and it keeps this as a sustained rate. The sail has a full size of 340 square feet – enough to live in. The sail’s material is the same as the balloons you see in stores, shiny mylar. This allows it to catch the photon’s momentum while being light, at a weight of only 5 kilograms.

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https://www.planetary.org/articles/lightsail-2-extended-mission

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