LightSail Spacecraft raised $1,025,601 in its Kickstarter Crowdfunding Campaign

LightSail Spacecraft raised $1,025,601 in its Kickstarter Crowdfunding Campaign


Almost a decade ago, a team decided to weave the dream of sending a probe to the space- a probe that would sail on the sun’s radiation! Going a step ahead today, the team has raised more than $1,025,601 in its crowdfunding goal at Kickstarter. The team is Planetary Society, and the non-profitable goal is ‘LightSail’ spacecraft. What is more fantastic? Well, LightSail reached the pledged goal within the 24 hours of its release!

Carl Sagan, reputed Scientist and Co-founder of Planetary Society, was the first man who promoted the idea of light sail in the year 1970. Years after his invention, Planetary Society took the decision of taking the legacy forward by creating a spacecraft that is driven by the Sun’s radiations- now this is something really amazing and inspiring!


All you need to know about LightSail!
Presented by the Planetary Society, LightSail is known as a citizen-funded project that came into light through the infamous Kickstarter campaign. Planetary Society is said to be the largest non-profit space advocacy group in the world. The team decided to launch two spacecrafts into Earth orbit- the spacecrafts were supposed to carry large, reflective sails with dimensions 32 square meters i.e. 344 square feet. The maiden mission was launched in May 2015 test flight. Once the ongoing Kickstarter campaign will successfully culmination, the money raised from the project would fund the second part of the mission that is expected for a next year release.

LightSail- The process
For the method of propulsion, LightSail uses the energy of the sun to lead the path. The light that drives the solar sail is made with the energy packets called ‘photons’. Since Photons have no mass, they travel in the form of a packet of light that has energy and momentum. The spacecraft captivates light and momentum with lightweight mirrored surfaces and sails. As soon as the sun light hits the sail, the solar sail picks the momentum and pushes the sail forward. The process leads to the acceleration that is slow yet continuous. Within a period of time, the speed is increased.

LightSail CubeSat
  • Launched on May 20, 2015. The first session of spacecraft that took a ride back to orbit aboard. The sail wasn’t too high as it was only meant for the testing purpose.
  • The idea behind this invention is to test the validation of spacecraft’s solar sail deployment system and other relevant keys.
  • The findings and rational outcomes of the test mission would help the primary mission in 2016.
  • Stellar Exploration, Inc. is the name that built LightSail.
  • California Polytechnic State University and Georgia Tech. are the ground station for LightSail.
  • Doug Stetson is the project manager for LightSail. He is the founder and principal partner of the Space Science and Exploration consultation Group.
  • Total estimate for the project is $5.45 million.
The funding journey The kickstarter campaign that started on May 12 initially pitched a funding goal of $200, 000 (however, it raised $212,000 within the first 24 hours of its release in the crowdfunding campaign).

The next funding milestone is $1,240,000, and the campaign has already raised $1,025,601.

Facts you need to know about the processing of LightSail
  • The team is busy putting the lesson learned from the test drive into practice. It is done in order to assist the success of the primary mission in 2016.
  • The construction of the original spacecraft was approximately completed 4 years ago.
  • What’s upgraded- the LightSail fight system electronics and the software have been upgraded as per the current versions. Also, the team has decided to upgrade the power system (that includes batteries and electronics) for avoiding issues that the team encountered during the test drive.
  • Upgrading cameras that are on-board are at priority.
What’s New
  • Presentation and documentation of complete plan will be delivered during the project review meeting scheduled for mid-July.
  • The team is still working on grounds with Flight system and upgrades.
  • The cost of the Ground Station Upgrades is estimated at $186,000.
  • Similarly, the cost of Crowd Sourced Mission Operations is budgeted at a cost of $54,000.
The Idea with the final Launch 2016 will be the year when the LightSail will initiate its maiden flight! It will be enclosed within Prox-1 (that is a small satellite prepared by the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Falcon Heavy will be lifting both the satellites up to the orbit. It is notable that Falcon Heavy is a heavy-lift rocket that is created by the spaceflight company called SpaceX.

At an altitude of about 720 Kilometers, the LightSail and Prox-1 would be released in the orbit. The altitude is high enough to counter the atmospheric drag created by most of the planets. Prox-1 will be ejecting LightSail to the open space (that will later culminate with LightSail to inspect it). Prox-1 will be taking the pictures and images when the LightSail will unfold in the open space. The capturing of the BIG moment is indeed special. Insight
The LightSail campaign is almost near to its final stage, and it is really exciting to hear about the innovation through Kickstarter. With this vision, Bill Nye (also known as the Science Guy or Planetary Guy) has invited the world for a cosmic journey where the mission is to sail a spacecraft that is small yet effective. It is nothing bigger than a breadbox; still the tiny CubeSat is powered by the beams of light. Indeed, the discovery of light and the relative energies has always influenced the life of human beings! We are proud that with ‘Light, Sun and Energy’, the History has always repeated itself for a betterment future.

Thanks to the growth in technology, with LightSail, we will now be able to witness innovation in the field of space science and exploration. LightSail is what the future demands from us- it is the part of the effort that we all should join.