LightSail spacecraft is back in touch with Earth after rebooting itself
The sunbeam-powered spacecraft LightSail is back in touch with Earth. LightSail lost the ability to send data because of a software glitch. Efforts to reboot it remotely failed, so the engineers hoped LightSail would perform a "natural reboot," which would occur if the spacecraft collided with stray charged particles.
In a statement released yesterday through his company Planetary Society, Nye said that's exactly what happened.
LightSail was inspired by Carl Sagan's idea of solar sailing, which imagined a spacecraft using the sun similar to the way a sailboat uses the wind. The craft is composed of a small satellite with four Mylar sails attached that allow LightSail to ride solar radiation.
This month's test flight hopes to prove that LightSail can successfully unfurl its sails. If the test is successful, a second flight is planned for April of next year. The scientists behind the project hope to demonstrate that solar propulsion can eliminate the need for boosters or fuel reserves in spaceflight.