The LightSail spacecraft has had some wild ups and downs since it blasted off for space a few weeks ago. Everything looked fine when it first made it to space, but it soon lost contact with Earth. The Planetary Society re-established contact a few days later. The team received some glitchy-looking test images from the onboard camera. Then it lost contact again.
Over the weekend, the craft booted back up, and the team was able to safely deploy the sail. After one more glitchy image was beamed down to Earth, Bill Nye — CEO of The Planetary Society — tweeted this beautiful image:
The Planetary Society is holding a press conference tomorrow to discuss the mission's early drama, but it's safe to say that image of the fully deployed sail must be a sight for the sore eyes of the team. The LightSail spacecraft's purpose is to test the feasibility of solar sail propulsion ahead of a much more ambitious launch in 2016, so the team behind it is learning from every minor success and failure that occurs. That upcoming project is still being funded privately and on Kickstarter.