The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft has rebooted and resumed communications with its team on Earth after a software glitch threatened the mission of the light-catching sail.
Here’s the official statement from Bill Nye, the Planetary Society’s CEO:
“Our LightSail called home! It’s alive! Our LightSail spacecraft has rebooted itself, just as our engineers predicted. Everyone is delighted. We were ready for three more weeks of anxiety. In this meantime, the team has coded a software patch ready to upload. After we are confident in the data packets regarding our orbit, we will make decisions about uploading the patch and deploying our sails— and we’ll make those decisions very soon. This has been a rollercoaster for us down here on Earth, all the while our capable little spacecraft has been on orbit going about its business. In the coming two days, we will have more news, and I am hopeful now that it will be very good.”
LightSail launched on May 20 aboard United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral in Florida. This is the first stage in a larger mission that aims to prove that a small satellite can be powered by the sun on a journey into space.