Geeking Science: LightSail 2

From the Planetary Society Kickstarter site

It’s been a long journey to start this long journey, and I have been on it from the moment the Planetary Society Board presented the idea to its members, through its Kickstarter, through LightSail 1’s fiery¬†death on the Russian Launch Pad, and finally the deployment of LightSail 2.

You may remember the Bajoran lightship on Deep Space Nine, the one Captian Sisko and Jake created reminiscent to the real-world Kon-Tiki expedition to prove a raft could cross the Pacific from South America to the Polynesian Island, in the fictional story’s case to prove the Bajorian traveled to Cardassian territory in their early space travel.

The cool thing is lightsail ships were a real scientific thought at that time, just hadn’t been proven viable. The ability to travel through space riding on just photons from the sun. It would be much slower than a rocket booster, but not everything needs to be done immediately. Station keeping weather stations, slow fly-bys of planets sending millions instead of hundreds of photos, communication arrays throughout the system. The possibilities are endless. And cheap – as the weight of the sails are negligible when compared to rocket fuel or nuclear¬†power … and tons less dangerous.

The long journey? Oh, that will be LightSail 2 in orbit right now with its sail due to be deployed on July 23, 2019 and going for about a year. That is a lot of orbits around the Earth, a very long journey.

You can follow its journey around the earth through the LightSail 2 Mission Control link.

Breakthrough Initiatives plan to use lightsails to send their fleet of small ships to Alpha Centauri.

This is now. This is our future. We can reach the stars.

One thought to “Geeking Science: LightSail 2”

  1. I first encountered the concept of a lightsail when reading Niven and Pournelle’s “The Mote in God’s Eye”. It was well laid there and quite intelligible and believable. Our technology has finally caught up.

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