LightSail unfurled its sails and is ready to take on the skies at last

The idea of a spacecraft with a solar based sail is an old concept, but lately got a new breath of life. After some discouraging start especially on the method of operating it, the team chose to complete the test as fast as possible ideally setting this coming Sunday as the target date.

The venture, known as LightSail, is financially supported and operated by a philanthropic association known as the Planetary Society.

While you may not imagine that sunlight has the power to move anything, photons really have a little driving force they convey onto something which they happen to bump. Make an item big enough to take on numerous hits, and you now have a fuel free transport in your hands.

The LightSail’s payload was one  big loaf of bread,  one of the 10 cargoes that were on a rocket dispatched from an unmanned U.S. space plane.

After the launching, things went pretty bad for the LightSail.  Following two days, the computer crashed because of a software defect. After eight days without power, a flood of charged particles forced the PC to restart. On Wednesday, the solar panels on the craft were opened, planning  to start actual use of the sails. However, another issue with the batteries cropped up. The batteries disconnected the craft offline.

After that, the craft has been left pretty much on its own, in silence. It will sail the skies definitely, with Bill Nye’s driving spirit behind the project, all these present setbacks are nothing but icing on the cake.

Image: http://o.aolcdn.com/

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/science/lightsail-setbacks-spacecraft-prepares-unfurl-sail.html?_r=0

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