The Planetary Society’s amateur radio spacecraft Lightsail-1 carries a 32m square metre solar sail demonstration.
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 will be used to capture the sail deployment.
It is proposing to have a downlink in the 435 MHz band with a 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 http://polysat.calpoly.edu/LightSail.php
Watch deployment of the solar sail
Watch deployment of the solar panels
Watch antenna deployment in slow motion
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.
Planetary Society LightSail-1 http://www.planetary.org/explore/projects/lightsail-solar-sailing/