Florida’s Kennedy Space Center will see Space X’s Falcon’s launch. The spacecraft is huge, with 230 feet tall, it weighs more than three million pounds. However, the launch of this spacecraft is a big deal actually because it will only carry a bread-loaf-sized device.
The device is designed to propel itself with the help of gossamer sails, which capture the pressure of the sunlight. The spacecraft has been dubbed as LightSail 2, which could be the beginning of a new era with respect to spacecraft. For the first time, the spacecraft let go of the rocket motors, which have been a crucial part of the rockets for decades.
However, that is not where the magic ends. Four days into space, LightSail 2 will pop out of its container and extend four long booms, with four sheets, which will be mirror-like and are made of Mylar plastic. The entire structure will then become a 340-square-foot structure, which will look like a kite.
The sunlight that would fall on these structures would not apply a pressure greater than the weight of a paperclip resting against the palm of one’s hand. The sunlight does not feel like anything on our skin on earth but in space, the sunlight has a slight pressure on it, which feels like a light persistent wind.
This is the first time ever that the world has tried to navigate in Earth’s orbit with the help of sunlight. Bill Nye, the CEO of CEO of The Planetary Society, the Pasadena-based nonprofit, the organization that developed and funded LightSail, says, “We hope to increase the orbital energy or altitude. We also hope that we can change the inclination of the orbit by making use of LightSail 2 as a sailboat.”
The possibilities of the solar sail and how it works out are limitless.