LightSail Says Final Goodbye With Selfie

After it was theorized by Carl Sagan, the LightSail was finally brought to life earlier this year with Bill Nye heading up the Solar Sail Project. After a successful launch and a communications blackout, the solar sail has finished its mission.

After 25 days in low-orbit, the Solar Sail has completed its initial set of tests and is preparing for re-entry into the atmosphere. After its primary objective was complete, the deployment of its solar sails, the craft took a selfie and transmitted it down to the control center. The image is shown above, clearly displays the solar sails fully deployed.

The team hoped to get a second picture from the camera located on the other side of the craft, however before this could happen though the craft began transmitting a continuous  stream with no reason behind the actual content of the transmission. At this point, the craft also stopped responding to commands issued to it from the ground.

With the successful deployment of its sails, and the first tests showing a complete success, the SolarSail project is yet another step towards its goal of being a sustainable and realistic mode of transport within the solar system. A mode of transport that’s not only renewable but requires no fuel, making the craft lighter from the very start of its journey.

Bill Nye’s Solar Sail Back In Touch After Reboot

We’ve all had the problem, something’s gone wrong and all of a sudden you panic! In my case, it’s normally something goes wrong with the wireless and you rush around checking your computer and your router making sure they are both working fine and you can connect to the internet again. In this case, though the two pieces of machinery were a little further apart when Bill Nye’s Solar Sail spacecraft started communicating again with the engineers back on earth.

The LightSail craft, our initial article on the launch here, had stopped sending information back to Earth after what is believed to be a software glitch. After attempting to remotely reboot the spacecraft failed they had only one chance left, a natural reboot, where the LightSail would reboot itself.

The LightSail successfully managed to reboot itself and call home, the company behind the project, Planetary Group, are confident that once their software has been patched and they are ready they will begin deploying the LightSails sails and continue testing the crafts space travelling capabilities.

Being able to travel without the use of fuel would make space travel not only more sustainable but could lighten up the spaceships we use considerably. This, however, goes as a reminder that no matter how safe you think are you, it always helps to have a backup, be it an automatic reboot for your multi-million dollar spaceship or your latest essay for school it helps to be prepared.

Thank you The Verge for the information.

Image courtesy of ISSS.

Space Travel By Sailing? Ahoy!

Space travel has long since been a thing of dreams, science fiction fans have long enjoyed the notion that one day our race would spread out into the stars and claim other planets as homes. First though we will need to reach the planets in question, but that may be one step closer today.

In recent weeks, NASA has been posting their findings on an EM drive, a concept that has long been considered impossible. By bouncing microwaves around a chamber, an EM drive would be able to create thrust from just electrical energy, removing the need for any fuel. This, however, is considered impossible by many because it violates the conservation of momentum, what is considered a fundamental law of the universe. With positive results seen so far we could be one step closer to a future among the stars.

Bill Nye is known for his famous insight into the world of physics, today he is taking a step towards another form of interstellar travel. Almost 40 years ago Carl sagan began to explain a new form of space travel, the concept using radiation from a star to help propel a vessel in a fashion comparable to using a sailboat on the sea.

The Solar sail project, founded by Carl Sagan, is currently headed by Bill Nye, and aims to explore the potential of using this method of transport instead of modern day rockets with fuel and chemicals powering their engines. The result of this is two small craft, built by Stellar Exploration Inc, the first of which is set to launch on the 20th of May. A full timeline of which can be seen here, on the planetary.org website. The first test flight aims to test the craft’s ability to deploy the four sails from a central cube, that will hold the arms and initially contain the sheets used for the sails. With the craft only capable of space travel, it requires an initial boost to leave the atmosphere, traditionally attached to a rocket before being detached and released into space when it has left Earth’s gravitational pull.

With space flight becoming a larger part of research and development, and with more of these showing promise such as the EM drive, only time is what separates us from space travel and the stars.

Thank you to CNet, Planetary.org and The Verge for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of ISSS.