tech

Sailing among the stars: How photons could revolutionize space flight

10 Comments
By Ivan Couronne

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© 2019 AFP

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unlike the Ikaros, which was sent to deep space and we have few updates about it. Lightsail2 will remain on earth orbit, so we can know more about how(well) the physics work.

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Using the sail for both propulsion and as a means to generate onboard power is a brilliant idea. In other words, light-weight solar panels would double as light sails.

Using light sails for space travel has been deemed efficient only within the orbit of Mars, unless the sails are pushed with man-made external lasers. Even within the orbit of Mars, using lasers to push the sails might be the fastest and cheapest means of travel. Chemical rockets are currently needed to escape Earth's surface, but are amazingly expensive and dangerous.

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Will these things work in deep space? The further you go from the solar system the fewer the number of photons from the sun pushing the sail. If you were equidistant from two stars wouldn't you stop moving?

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The core idea is to stay relatively close to the Sun, the close the better, to build up speed to a certain point at which it can be sling shot into destination, such as the Alpha Centuri system.

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Remember that episode of Deep Space 9 when they built a solar sail and reached light speed? Maybe this sail could also break Einstein's challenge!!

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Still gonna need warp speed to get to the nearest solar system other than our own, Alpha Centauri, which is over 4 light years away,

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,8

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At least its clean energy, but the amount of junk up there does seem to be increasing rapidly, imagine if other countries adopt a Star Link approach, its going to rapidly go into the tens of thousands of "loaf " sized satellites.

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If you were equidistant from two stars wouldn't you stop moving?

I think you would continue moving but stop accelerating. You might decelerate as you approach the other star.

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Not sure if JAXA are still in contact with Ikaros, but it is a more elegant design as it does not need to lug a box around. Like the proposed Star Shot craft everything is built in to the sail.

Sundiver manoeuvres would give you increased speed, provided you survived the heat but it would still take centuries to reach even Alpha Centauri. Directed or beamed energy is the only near term technology we have that could get a science package to AC within a working lifetime.

madmanmunt, DS9 design would never work, as to light speed, I suggest you read up on some basic physics. Never happen.

Scrote, yes it would but as you said it would lose thrust, however momentum would keep it going and the general idea is the sail is either folded, turned side ways or dropped to avoid impacts from gas/dust molecules.

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