SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket is set to launch carrying various payloads including the LightSail 2, a pioneering experimental spacecraft created by Bill Nye’s non-profit organization, The Planetary Society. This spacecraft is designed to use sunlight as its primary means of propulsion in space.

The idea behind the LightSail2 was first conceptualized by The Planetary Society’s founder Carl Sagan before his death in 1996. Under the guidance of Nye, the current CEO of the organization, The Planetary Society was able to create a fully-functioning spacecraft that relies on pure sunlight energy.

Unlike traditional solar-powered satellites, which store energy from the Sun to power their electronic components, LightSail 2 uses the direct force of sunlight to move.

It works by deploying a boxing ring-sized sail composed of thin sheets of polyester. The sail then gets pushed by the light particles from the Sun known as photons. With this concept, The Planetary Society aims to revolutionize space travel by eliminating the need for fuel and other chemicals for propulsion.

According to Nye, the upcoming launch of LightSail 2 aboard the Falcon Heavy for its STP-2 mission will be a huge milestone for The Planetary Society and its founding members.

“Forty years ago, my professor Carl Sagan shared his dream of using solar sail spacecraft to explore the cosmos,” Nye said in a statement. "The Planetary Society is realizing the dream."

“Thousands of people from all over the world came together and supported this mission,” he added. “We couldn’t have done it without them. Carl Sagan, and his colleagues Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman, created our organization to empower people everywhere to advance space science and exploration.”

Falcon Heavy’s upcoming launch is SpaceX’s most ambitious one to date according to the company. In preparation for the event, the company allocated a four-hour launch window starting at 11:30 pm ET on June 24. SpaceX is targeting liftoff to commence at 2:30 am ET on June 25.

Aside from LightSail 2, Falcon Heavy’s STP-2 mission also features various payloads including the Deep Space Atomic Clock and over 20 satellites from the U.S. Department of Defense and private organizations.

Artist's rendition of the LightSail and the Milky Way galaxy. Planetary Society