These lessons of the past can only help to create individuals of excellence for the present and for the future. At Falcon College, we take our responsibility to find what is exceptional in our students very seriously. The experience that we have prepared for them here gives every student an all-round education, built on a foundation of ServiceAdventureSportsCreative Arts and Academics. As a fully residential school, we also nurture a commitment to compassion, respect and well-being that we believe is an antidote to the entitlement, anxiety and lack of connection that dominate the day-to-day lives of so many teenagers. To prepare our students to enter a competitive and interconnected world, we build their capacity to collaborate, take intellectual risks and turn their ideas and passions into something original and valuable.
Previous Falcon Heavy launches each carried a single large payload—a Tesla roadster and an Arab telecommunication satellite —but this launch will carry two dozen satellites into Earth orbit.
You can watch starting about 20 minutes before liftoff at the livestream below. The satellites onboard the Falcon Heavy will be used to demonstrate new technologies and collect a wealth of scientific data. This includes testing an atomic clock for deep-space navigation and a new, ultrasafe green satellite fuel , studying radiation and space weather, and demonstrating Wi-Fi communication between cubesats and GPS signals for weather forecasts.
After about a week, the satellites deposited in the third orbit will have drifted apart from one another and the PROX-1 spacecraft will deploy the LightSail 2 cubesat using a small spring.
After some testing to make sure everything is working correctly, the cubesat will begin to unfurl its mylar sail, which is about the size of a boxing ring and thinner than a human hair.
For at least a month, the LightSail 2 will use pressure from light particles, or photons, to lift itself into a higher orbit. When they strike the solar sail, this momentum gets transferred to the spacecraft.
As the spacecraft orbits the Earth, a small flywheel inside the spacecraft will turn the sail to capture these photons, similar to how a sailboat adjusts its jib to travel in a desired direction. Simulations show that the LightSail 2 should be able to raise its orbit by half a kilometer per day, but its designers say they will consider any measurable altitude increase to be a success.
The amount of force the photons will apply to the solar sail is equal to about 9 micronewtons per square meter.
If satellites can harness photon pressure for propulsion, it will make navigating the solar system with cubesats far cheaper and simpler by eliminating the need for satellite fuel. Looking to the future, solar sails also open up the possibility of interstellar travel.
But if solar sails are propelled using a powerful array of lasers on Earth or the moon, a small spacecraft could feasibly make an interstellar journey.
This is, in fact, the goal of Breakthrough Starshot, a plan bankrolled by a Russian-born billionaire that aims to send the first interstellar probe to Alpha Centauri , our closest stellar neighbor.
The LightSail 2 is a small step toward developing the technology that would make that mission possible.