Deployment testing for a solar-sailing spacecraft will be conducted on campus Monday at 9:45 a.m. until later that evening in Advanced Technology Laboratories (building 7) and Bonderson Engineering Project Center (building 197).
The project is organized by The Planetary Society, and CEO Bill Nye will be coming to campus along with Georgia Tech partner Dave Spencer to support the launch. Members of Cal Poly’s CubeSat organization will also be there.
LightSail 2 is a project aimed to test solar-sailing capabilities of miniaturized satellites for research — also referred to as CubeSats.
It’s spacecraft propulsion. The idea is that the sails will use the sun’s traveling light energy to drive the satellite. The sails are large and mirrored so that the light will be reflected, thus pushing the sails. It could also be an alternative for chemical rockets, according to the Planetary Society.
Cal Poly is one of the ground stations for LightSail 2, and will be the last place these sails will be tested on the ground, according to Jason Davis, a digital editor for The Planetary Society.
The original project, LightSail 1, was of the same concept. However, the satellite did not make it far enough out of Earth’s orbit for its sails to be truly tested. The satellite tumbled back into the atmosphere with a fiery end.
Last year, Cal Poly CubeSat members provided assistance and worked closely with Spencer, the project manager.