Can you use the sun to sail through space?

Answer: Bill Nye thinks so.

by / July 25, 2019
A rendering of a communications satellite in space. Shutterstock/Johan Swanepoel

Bill Nye the Science Guy and his nonprofit organization, the Planetary Society, have a satellite in orbit that is testing the possibility of literally sailing through space. Launched into orbit June 25 aboard SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, the LightSail 2 satellite powers itself using sunlight.

About a month after it began orbiting the Earth and performing tests, LightSail 2 unfurled its sail on Wednesday. At full size, the sail is about as wide as a regulation boxing ring. For the next year, the satellite will use this sail to keep itself running as it performs tests and gathers data. If it proves viable, this method of solar transportation would be much cheaper and more sustainable than those currently used.

“Solar sailing is in its infancy, but it may become a game-changer,” Bill Nye told Digital Trends. “We’ll soon be able to send our solar sail spacecraft to all sorts of destinations in our solar system, and perhaps to another star system one day.”

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