LightSail: Real Life Solar Sailing Spacecraft

LightSailOccasionally, I like to talk about real life science and exploration. This blog entry, I’d like to tell you about a new Kickstarter project that’s close to its ending date and so very close to reaching a major stretch goal. I’ll be honest and say this new era of internet crowd funding, with sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe, makes me a little nervous. I’m an easy going, laid back, supportive type person. When I hear of a need and it’s something I feel I can help out with and it’s within my means to do so, I’ll do what I can. So, over the years I’ve been taken advantage of, given to things that ended up being a scam. I’ve not lost great sums of money, I’m not that crazy, but it still hurts and my faith in humanity deteriorates a little each time. From those experiences, I’ve become more critical of my giving, even for the kind of things that I believe in.

Which brings me this Kickstarter project that I feel I can’t ignore, LightSail: A Revolutionary Solar Sailing Spacecraft. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, it’s easy to see I love exploration both in game and out. I’m a big fan of science, especially in terms of space exploration, and I admire folks like Carl Sagan, Michio Kaku, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye… and so on. Exploration is just part of my soul.

Bill Nye (yulp, the Science Guy) is currently the CEO of the Planetary Society which is a membership funded organization whose mission is to “Empower the world’s citizens to advance space science and exploration.” Basically meaning, your voice and funding goes directly to projects that promotes humanity’s future in space, exploration, and our next generation of creative young minds, around the world. The Planetary Society was founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman, and one dream of theirs was the solar sail and it looks like… no… it IS becoming a reality today.

So what’s it do? Basically, it’s like a sailboat but instead of wind energy, it utilizes the sun’s energy, or light/photons, for momentum. The Kickstarter project is an opportunity to support and help launch LightSail, a craft that will help prove the concept and hopefully promote it as a means to support low-cost citizen projects (relatively speaking, of course). With its success, and I’m sure it will be successful, who knows what new horizons will be found as dozens of these could be launched on missions of all kinds.

With the backing of the Planetary Society and the promotion of folks like Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson, there’s no doubt in my mind this particular Kickstarter is the real deal. At this moment, they’re just short of 1 million in support, coming in at $984,874, with only 5 days to go. You can give as little as a $1 or as much as you like. How can you not, if you’re an explorer at heart?

(PS: You’ll be able to see it from the ground as it orbits the Earth, like you can with the ISS. How cool is that? Especially, if you can point and say you had a part in it.)