Bill Nye 'The Science Guy' visits Cal Poly for solar sail spacecraft testing

Aug 20, 2014

A team of scientists at Cal Poly worked to test elements of a kite-like, solar-powered spacecraft Wednesday on the San Luis Obispo campus.

It's called the LightSail mission and it's built using components known as CubeSats developed at Cal Poly and Stanford University.

Wednesday's test was to include a full simulation of what the spacecraft will do in space, however a communications problem between the antenna and receiver caused a glitch in the testing. Another test has been scheduled for next week. 

In attendance was Bill Nye, best known for hosting Bill Nye, the Science Guy on PBS. He says Cal Poly is the place to be for this technology.

"[It's] the place with the expertise in CubeSats, really impressive students here," said Nye. "You know I'm an old engineer and these guys are really good—these guys and gals are really good."

Nye is also the CEO of the Planetary Society which is working with Cal Poly to develop the LightSail.

Nye says the LightSail could revolutionize interplanetary travel if the technology reaches its full potential.