Satellite Successfully Propelled Into Higher Orbit Using Sunbeams

The Lightsail 2 satellite was developed by the space research and non-profit group the Planetary Society

A small crowd-funded satellite promoted by TV host and science educator Bill Nye has been propelled into a higher orbit using only the force of sunlight blowing against its sail in space, a novel propulsion developers say could “democratize” spaceflight.

The Lightsail 2 spacecraft, roughly the size of a loaf of bread, was launched into orbit in June and unfurled a tin foil-like solar sail designed to steer and push the spacecraft, using the momentum of tiny particles of light called photons emanating from the sun, into a higher orbit.

The satellite was developed by the California-based space research and education non-profit group the Planetary Society, whose chief executive is the television personality popularly known as Bill Nye the Science Guy.

The technology promises a virtually inexhaustible source of space propulsion as a substitute for finite supplies of rocket fuels that the current generation of spacecraft rely on to maneuver in flight.

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