The saga of the Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft (see earlier post) continues. The control team decided to deploy only the solar panels today (Wednesday) and, if that went well, unfurl the solar sail on Friday: LightSail Deployment Update: Panels Wednesday, Sails Friday – The Planetary Society.
Data indicates that the deployment of the solar panels occurred, though it has not been confirmed visually with a photo from a spacecraft camera: LightSail Solar Panel Deployment: No Pics, but Data Look Good – The Planetary Society.
They will decide on Thursday whether to proceed with the sail deployment.
The spacecraft is out of range until Thursday, with the next ground station pass expected to begin at 4:45 a.m. EDT. A team meeting is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. to discuss the latest telemetry data. With evidence mounting in favor of a successful panel deployment, and an itch to press forward on the solar sails as soon as possible, further test imaging may be scrapped. Providing battery levels return to normal, and any outstanding issues are resolved, a Friday deployment could still be in the works.
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