NASA’s LightSail 2 Passed More Testing

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The team behind LightSail 2 is running more tests on the craft. This has led to delays in the launch of the solar sail on the craft. As the ground team needs to wait at least until the 21st of July to perform the operation. They are currently configuring the control system and conducting a possible software update for the craft’s flight operating system. LightSail 2 remains in orbit under safe conditions in the meanwhile. It has even provided mission control with a photograph from its orbit.

The photo was not that great. As the satellite is not a pro photographer, it snapped a photo with a lens flare on the bottom left and upper right corners. The satellite also caught a piece of equipment that was holding its solar panels together in the picture. But still, Earth looks nice.

Much work has been performed on the craft. The US Air Force has provided information that has improved the craft’s communication capabilities. Mission control has been working to improve the way LighSail spins and turns, using its electromagnetic torque rods.

NASA’s LightSail 2 Passed More Testing

The team is concerned with readings from the attitude control system on LightSail 2 and is conducting additional tests. This system is critical for establishing the course during solar sailing. Data received from orbit will be compared from ground testing and a software update will be performed to fix the issue.

Dave Spencer, LightSail 2 manager comments: “We want to take some of the time pressure off the team and make sure that they can methodically address the problems that have been uncovered. Accurate attitude control is critical for the success of the mission, and we are going to take the time to get it right and verify proper functionality before deploying the sail.”

LightSail 2 currently has its sails stowed away while maintaining a stable orbit. The deployment of the sail will cause increased drag that will alter its orbit. So its navigational system needs to be performing at optimal levels before it can undergo its mission objectives.


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