As sailboats have the air in their wings to push them, so in space, solar “wind” can be the driving force for a boat.
This technology will be tested by a small spacecraft, the US Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 solar sailboat, scheduled to be launched on June 25 (06:30 GMT) with a Space X Falcon Heavy missile from the Space Center Kennedy in Florida.
Of a size of bread loaf of only five pounds, SightSail 2, manufactured by Stellar Exploration Inc, two weeks after it is in space, will roll out a solar “cloth” almost as long as a boxing ring (32 square meters) he will try to change his orbit by taking advantage of the photons of the solar wind that will gently fall on the sail.
This is the culmination of a ten-year program of scientists and engineers of the Planetary Society, which was founded in 1980 by three visionaries, including the famous astronomer Carl Seigan.
“40 years ago my professor Carl Seigan presented the vision for a spacecraft spacecraft that could explore space. Thousands of people from around the world have supported this mission, “said Bill Nay, head of the Planetary Society.
If the mission is successful, LightSail 2 will become the first spacecraft to change its trajectory around the Earth with the help of not a machine but a sail and sunlight. Its launch will take place along with 23 other satellites to be set on three different tracks, as part of the US Space Department’s Space Test Programm-2 pilot space program. LightSail-2 will be in the suitcase size Prox-1 and will be released from it seven days after it launches.
A few days later, LightSail-2 will open four solar panels and four triangular Mylar-shaped sails, with a total area of 32 square meters and just 4.5 micrometers thick (smaller than human hair), which will turn towards the sun. A month later, the sustained solar boost is expected to allow LightSail-2 to gain altitude, moving on a higher track than the 300-kilometer original, reaching a height of up to 865 kilometers, more than double that of the International Space Station