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Bill Nye needs your help with the Lightsail

By Salehuddin Bin Husin - on 14 May 2015, 11:39am

Bill Nye needs your help with the Lightsail

 The idea of a solar powered spaceship has been seen in sci-fi before.Count Dooku used one (pictured) when he escaped from Geonosis in Star Wars: Episode II.

It has been more than two decades since the first episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy first aired on TV, but Bill Nye is still as involved with science today as he was years ago. In fact, The Science Guy has taken to calling himself the The Planetary Guy now, since he's the CEO of the Planetary Society, the world's largest space-interest organization.

The Planetary Society wants to test out the Lightsail, a solar sail. The idea was first proposed by some of Earth's greatest space advocates, including Louis Friedman and Carl Sagan. Working off the initial theories from Sagan and the rest,The Planetary Society wants to launch a tiny CubeSat, no bigger than a breadbox, into Earth's orbit. The CubeSat then deploys its solar sails, catching the protons in the sun's rays and using them to propel itself through space.

How the Lightsail will work.

There'll be two different phases on the project. The first one begins next Wednesday (20th May 2015), 2300hrs local time. In this phase, a CubeSat with all the proposed tech will be launched but won't reach high enough in the atmosphere for the solar sails to deploy. Instead, this phase is to work out all the kinks with the other tech used first.

The second phase will take place sometime in 2016, where the CubeSat will be deployed in space and then tested to make sure it all works as planned. The data gathered in this phase will be the most critical part of the whole endeavor, as it'll show if the theory actually works and what is actually needed for a large scale deployment if it does. If everything does go smoothly, it's pretty much safe to say that the space propulsion issues for space travel will be solved at its most basic level.

What the CubeSat looks like.

Here's where you can come in to help. The Kickstarter project seeks US$200,000 in funding, an amount it has already surpassed. So no matter what, the Lightsail will see deployment next year. That doesn't mean that the hard part's already done. In fact, that was the easy part. The hard part is fulfilling the stretch goals that can help boost the effectiveness of the project by getting more scientists involved.

More money means more exposure.

Pledges start as low as US$1 for your name to be included in the list of backers that the CubeSat will take into space to US$10,000, a tier that gets you a VIP invite to watch the CubeSat launch next year.

Source: Kickstarter, The Planetary Society

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