Sunbeam Sailing Spacecraft Launched Into Orbit For Test Flight

A tiny spacecraft designed to sail on sunbeams has been launched in a test flight that could transform long-distance space exploration.
The probe, called LightSail, is equipped with a huge silver sail that will unfurl in the coming weeks and use the momentum of sunlight to propel it smoothly through space.
The craft was developed by the US Planetary Society in a crowd-funded project and piggy-backed on the launch of an Atlas 5 rocket. Unlike conventional solar energy, where incoming light is converted into electricity, solar sailing relies on energy transferred from sunlight bouncing off the sail’s reflective surface.