The sail is the creation of The Planetary Society, a non-government organization co-founded by Sagan in 1980. As far as firsts go, LightSail scores the bronze. Japan and the US have already successfully tested solar sail technology. Though LightSail has hit some snags along the way toward its first flight, the craft’s real importance relies on its makers. Much how SpaceX defined rocket development for the private sector, so too could The Planetary Society make solar sailing actually affordable and sensible to use. The project costs only $4.5 million and requires no fuel because, duh, solar-powered.
The LightSail will test its capability on May 20, and if all systems are go, it will take to the stars in April 2016.