The device was launched in June using a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.
The Planetary Society has officially announced that the LightSail 2 spacecraft, launched in June, has successfully deployed the sails with which it should raise its orbit.
The procedure for deploying sails was scheduled for 8 July. However, due to technical reasons, it had to be postponed for almost three weeks. And now it became known that everything went well - photographs were taken using the on-board camera with a fisheye lens. The craft now uses sails to raise its orbit without the use of engines. Unlike traditional spacecraft, LightSail 2 does not use jet propulsion, but the power of the solar wind.
Scientists working on the project report that space sailboat already gets a small but constant traction. And this means that everything was done correctly. It will take LightSail 2 approximately one month to increase its orbit. The sailboat is expected to enter Earth's atmosphere in about a year.
The procedure for deploying sails consisted of two stages. Initially, the apparatus had to open four supports made of cobalt alloy, 4 meters long. And only after that it became possible to open sails made of Mylar with a total area of 32 sq.m. (this is the approximate area of a boxing ring).
This is the second such project from the Planetary Society. Earlier in 2015, scientists had already launched the LightSail 1 sailboat. Then there were also certain technical difficulties, but in general the experiment was considered successful. Research in this direction will make it possible to create light spacecraft in the future that do not need fuel.