(Popular Mechanics) An organization founded nearly 40 years ago by Carl Sagan is now sending a small spacecraft, known as the LightSail 2, to orbit around the planet. The tiny satellite, around the size of a loaf of bread, will attempt to power itself solely through "the gentle push" of solar photons, the organization says in a press statement.
The Planetary Society was founded in 1980 by Sagan, fellow NASA scientist Bruce Murray, and engineer Louis Friedman. With a goal of promoting and advocating for space exploration, the Society has worked at examining the feasibility of solar sailing, as LightSail 2's method of travel is known, since 2005. A preliminary demonstrator, LightSail 1, struggled at first but was ultimately deemed a success in 2015. The lessons learned from the original LightSail were always meant to be preparation for LightSail 2.