The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 CubeSat, launched on June 25, will transmit Morse code from space. LightSail is a citizen-funded project to send a small spacecraft, propelled solely by sunlight, into Earth’s orbit. The innovative satellite is due to be deployed on July 2 from Prox-1, a Georgia Tech student-built spacecraft the size of a small washing machine. Once deployed, LightSail 2 will automatically transmit a beacon packet every few seconds, which can be decoded into 238 lines of text telemetry describing the spacecraft’s health and status, including everything from battery status to solar sail deployment motor state. Every 45 seconds, the spacecraft will transmit “LS2” on the spacecraft’s frequency of 437.025 MHz, within the Amateur Radio 70-centimeter band.
LightSail 2 lifted off from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, carried by the SpaceX triple-booster Falcon Heavy rocket. The launcher also carried aloft two dozen spacecraft for the US Air Force STP-2 mission. Launch had been set to occur late on June 24, but SpaceX delayed the liftoff to make additional ground system checks.