Just days ago, legendary astronomer Carl Sagan, who once envisioned a spaceship that uses sunlight radiation to push itself through the solar system much like a boat relies on the wind, announced that his decades-old project is about to become a practical reality.
The LightSail will be blasting off to space (along with the X37B drone) on May 20th for a test flight, but the project still needs a lot more money for its first major mission in 2016.
So, Bill Nye and The Planetary Society took to Kickstarter to raise $1.2 million. Since that’s a ton of money to ask for, the team set a more realistic $200,000 goal. They do, however, have to stretch their goal up to $1 million, which will cover the construction, testing and deployment of the final version, as well as LightSail’s operations in space for a few months.
Sorry to crush your dreams, but you won’t be opening up a package containing a solar-powered spacecraft as a reward for backing the project. You’ll have to settle for posters, jackets and signed paraphernalia (still pretty cool).
LightSail was originally conceptualized by Carl Sagan as a “solar sailer,” a spacecraft that uses the sun’s radiation for propulsion.
The Planetary Society is a non-profit organization headed by Bill Nye. They are attempting to make their own version of the current model, which is a CubeSat no bigger than a breadbox with four sails.
If the team manages to raise enough money, LightSail will be sent to orbit (at an altitude of 447 miles) aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket in 2016.