Astronomy Solar Sails getting tested

Discussion in 'Astronomy' started by JcMinJapan, Nov 10, 2004.

  1. JcMinJapan

    JcMinJapan Premium Member

    Propulsion has been our weak as well as limiting area in space science. I am glad to see this being used as an alternative. I think that this will be very important on very long voyages due to the limited amount of fuel needed as well as the speeds that this thing could potenially gain.

  2. Bleys

    Bleys Phoenix Takes Flight Staff Member

    JC - What a great article!

    I know absolutely nothing about solar sails, but have lots of questions....

    What kind of speeds are we looking at?
    Will a vessel continue to accelerate at great distances?
    What are the effects of another planet's gravitational pull?
    What kind of breaking system would it have?

  3. JcMinJapan

    JcMinJapan Premium Member

    The estimated speed would be at at about 56 mi/sec (90 km/sec), or about 200,000 mph (324,000 kph). You could travel from New York to Los Angeles in less than a minute at that speed. Voyager 1 has been in space for 20 years, it would only take 8 years to catch it up and surpass it. I wrote about Magnetic beam transmitters previously. If NASA added them in the mix, then we are talking about speeds up to 18,600 mi/sec (30,000 km/sec), which is one-tenth the speed of light.
    Yes, but the problem with solar sales is the size. The Cosmos 1 is only for a short mission and the size of the sails are the size of a 10 story building. A proposed interstellar sail would have to be about 6.5 million square feet or about 600,000 SQ meters. That is HUGE!!!! The object will only gain speed at 1 mm per second. So, getting it started is very slow moving. But, 1 mm per second acceleration for constantly will allow for great speed to be realized quickly. Even though the huge sails would have to be used, they would enable us to go to places never before imagined on much less of a budget.

    But, if it got too far away, the photons would not affect the sail anymore and the speed would stay the same until it got close to another sun.
    The natural gravitational pull will of couse speed up the craft if they planned it correctly, but with this much speed, they may be safer at staying away from that.
    Well, the breaking system would work relatively the same way. Just turn the sails around. Although, it could take you a year to slow... ha ha But, my guess would be that there would be a little propulsion unit to assist if they need to stop somewhere. But, at those speeds it would take a long time to slow anyways.
  4. Mizar

    Mizar Premium Member

    WOW yes thats coolbut whats even coler is that the reflectivity and the large sails will make it a "star" im going to sure use my scope and find it HAHAHAHA! thats going to be awesome

    im glad to see new purpoulsion being used now we have conventional roctery, ion, plasma, and solar anything im missing that has been tested in space? exceprt gravity( slingshot deal)

    this is good news