Amateur Radio Spacecraft LightSail-1


Artists impression of LightSail - Image Credit Planetary Society

The amateur radio spacecraft LightSail-1 is a 32 square metre solar sail demonstrator.

The first full scale deployment of  the solar sail was conducted on March 4, 2011 at Stellar Exploration in San Luis Obispo, California. Read more

After launch LightSail-1 will spend a few weeks in orbit during which the team will check out the subsystems. The side panels will then be deployed, exposing a folded sail, and a motor driven sail deployment will extend rigid booms.

With the sail deployed, the primary operation for the spacecraft are performing 90 degree slews to get the sail normal to the sun vector, or edge on with the sun vector.

A combination of ground based sensors and on board sensors will be used to characterize the acceleration due to solar pressure. Imagers on the deployed panels are used to capture the sail deployment.

Proposing to have a downlink in the 435 MHz band with 1.5W output, semi-duplex 9k6 GMSK AX25 with a CW preamble to a single monopole. LightSail-1 is a 3U CubeSat weighing around 4.5 kg. More information will be available at

Watch LightSail-1 Video Update: Construction Begins!

The Planetary Society‘s LightSail program will launch three separate spacecraft over the course of several years, beginning with LightSail-1. Lightsail-2 will attempt a longer duration flight to higher Earth orbits, demonstrating that solar sails can increase their orbital energy and taking the next major step toward using solar sails for missions in and beyond Earth orbit.

LightSail-3 will fly to the Sun-Earth Libration Point, L1, where solar sail spacecraft could be permanently placed as solar weather stations, monitoring the geomagnetic storms from the Sun that potentially endanger electrical grids on Earth as well as satellites in Earth orbit.

Article LightSail-1 Nears Critical Design Review

Centauri Dreams

Planetary Society – LightSail