Misshapes are hopefully over for The Planetary Society’s LightSail, as the solar sail is deployed. Nobody knew what to expect, since contact was interrupted more than once.
The sailor sail was deployed, and although the first attempt to establish contact did not receive a signal, on the second attempt it did.
LightSail is a citizen funded project, so even if the first mission did not totally succeed the achievement is still great. This open source program funded by enthusiasts and private citizens, embodies hope for a future of private projects, and citizen implication in space travel.
At this stage it is off course experimental, data gathered will be used to improve the second lightSail launch planned by the Planetary Society.
The solutions found to the first craft’s problems will help the team on Earth, solve any reoccurring issues faster.
The craft first encountered a problem when it went offline due to a software glitch only 2 days after it’s launch. It auto-rebooted after 8 days , and then last week it lost contact again. Fortunately 2 days after the last mishap it started working again.
The problem was most likely connected to the solar batteries, they might not of been calibrated accordingly, or might of had problems due to power spikes.
It is believed that the batteries received either too much power due to an abundance of sunlight or too little during nighttime, creating either too much power for the battery to handle or too little to charge it..
The purpose of the first launch was to test the sails, and currently deployment worked so experts assume that the sunlight will help the craft’s next orbital pass. Momentarily the sail is flying too low for it to actually “sail”.
The Planetary Society launched the LightSail using the Atlas V Rocket on May 20 2015.
If the second test will be more successful, it is expected that the LightSail project will continue, since it was originally designed for testing the possibility of solar spacecraft propulsion.
After LightSailA the LightSail 1 has been announced to launch , it will be bigger and will help scientists properly analyze the sail motion capability.
Image Source: theverge.com