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Bill Nye’s LightSail deploys its wings, after recovering from glitches


The Planetary Society has announced that their LightSail spacecraft came over its second glitch, and deployed it wings on Sunday (June 7). The sail was launched on May 20, and completed its mission after facing multiple glitches.imrs (1)

 

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The tiny spacecraft launched by the California-based non-profit society was unreachable for a long time, after its launch. Even after establishing communications, it took several days for the spacecraft to deploy the sail. This indicated that a propulsion system thinner than human hair could be launched and deployed in to space. The spacecraft came over its battery problem — the second glitch, according to representatives from The Planetary Society.

“Sail deployment began at 3:47 p.m. EDT (19:47 UTC) off the coast of Baja, California,” said Jason Davis of The Planetary Society in a mission update.

The control of the mission gave engineers an opportunity to communicate with LightSail, and they hope to confirm that the deployment procedure has been completed. Davis said that the power levels were consistent with ground-based deployment tests, and the spacecraft’s cameras were on. LightSail mission manager David Spencer stated that the solar deployment was proceeding normally.

The team is expecting images from the spacecraft on the ground soon. Solar sails have the ability to harness the tiny but the continuous wave of protons, emitted from the Sun.  The spacecraft does not use a propellant for cruising around the Solar System, in a cheap and efficient manner. The mission of the spacecraft is to prove the key components of solar-sailing technology — altitude control, sail-deployment and others. In the future, another LightSail spacecraft is expected to cruise around the Earth’s orbit.

Since its launch,  the team had a tough time as the spacecraft stopped communicating after entering the orbit. Luckily, its system was rebooted after a charged particle hit the electronic board, On June 3, Light Sail again went dark after a battery problem, and bounced back on June 6, allowing the sail-deployment.

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