Stellar Exploration Inc congratulates The Planetary Society on the completion of the first test light of Lightsail, culminating in the spectacular deployment of its solar sail.
Many people contributed to the project since its inception but a few provided essential contributions: This mission would not ever happened without Lou Friedman (emeritus executive director of The Planetary Society) and whose napkin sketch started this project five years ago. His successor at the Society, Bill Nye, pushed forward with the project and Doug Stetson, the current project manager, brought it to the successful conclusion.

Under a contract with the Society, Stellar developed and manufactured Lightsail. Two completed and tested satellites were delivered in early 2013 (Ecliptic Enterprises provided the final software update, and integration & testing support for the 2014 launch opportunity).

This project was conceived as a major step along the solar sail roadmap Lightsail builds on the NASA experience with NanoSail-D2, doubling the sail dimension (thus quadrupling its surface area) and adding active attitude control, two cameras and other diagnostics. In turn, the Lightsail design evolved into the next solar sail missions, sponsored by NASA Flashlight and NEOScout.

Lightsail is the largest deployment experiment ever attempted in space, when measured as a ratio of the deployment size compared to the stowed size 80:1. 10-cm Cubesat deploys an 8-meter tip-to-tip gossamer structure. Lightsail sail performance (ratio area to its mass) exceeds any other current or proposed sail project, with the sail surface area is 32 square meters and the complete satellite weighs just under 5 kg.

Our team took great pride in developing this little machine Lou Friedman: “Stellar built a great spacecraft. We are all very proud of the LightSail spacecraft’s design and development, and congratulate everyone involved in this successful test flight We look forward to the solar sailing flight by LightSail-B next year.”

This successful Lightsail experiment follows the successful orbital operations of two Perseus-M satellites since their launch in June 2014. For that project, the Stellar team was responsible for the project leadership and design, systems integration and early on-orbit mission operations. These first 6U Cubesats were developed under a contract for Dauria Aerospace and launched in the unprecedented 8 months since the project authorization.

Stellar Exploration, a small aerospace company, is focused on innovative low-cost aerospace and space exploration projects. Presently, Stellar develops technology foundations for implementing microsatellite radar constellations, for several niche applications.

For more information, please contact Dr. Tomas Svitek, at or +1 805 459-1425.

Attached photo shows one of many developments tests of the Lightsail sail, performed at the Stellar R&D shop at San Luis Obispo, California.