Artist’s concept of LightSail 2 above Earth. Image: The Planetary Society
Yesterday, a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket successfully launched NASA’s STP-2 mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying with it a whole raft of technology demonstrations that will one day aid in smarter spacecraft design and help the agency’s efforts in getting to Mars.
Some of the more high profile projects included a Deep Space Atomic Clock that could change the way deep-space navigation is conducted, and a new propulsion system that runs on a high-performance and non-toxic spacecraft fuel called the Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM).
However, also stashed amongst NASA’s payloads was a small satellite built by Georgia Tech students, called Prox-1 and packed safely within that like a Russian nesting doll, is a citizen-funded project that originally sprang from the mind of Carl Sagan.