First Solar Sail Space Craft Set To Be Launched


MongoTheGeek

macrumors 68040
Mr. Anderson said:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/space/06/07/solarsail.vision/index.html

Again, a bit of Science Fiction meets reality. Very cool stuff and if it works as well as they think, it will transform space travel. The only thing is it won't work too well for manned missions :D

You might be able to get 100,000 mph, but how would you slow down?

D
You turn around when you get to alpha centauri and let it push you slower.
 

andiwm2003

macrumors 601
Mar 29, 2004
4,325
379
Boston, MA
MongoTheGeek said:
You turn around when you get to alpha centauri and let it push you slower.
after 27,000 years.

there won't be anybody left to turn it around. unless you run it by a good old trusty mac plus.... ;)

andi
 

FoxyKaye

macrumors 68000
Mr. Anderson said:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/space/06/07/solarsail.vision/index.html

Again, a bit of Science Fiction meets reality. Very cool stuff and if it works as well as they think, it will transform space travel. The only thing is it won't work too well for manned missions :D

You might be able to get 100,000 mph, but how would you slow down?
All I can think of is Star Trek IV - the captain on the large screen at the beginning of the movie when everything is going to hell: "We've deployed a makeshift solar sail. We have high hopes that this will provide us with sufficient power..."

Come to think of it, how would you slow down? Dropping the sail will stop constant thrust, but it's not like you can rely on friction or air resistance to slow you down. Reversing the thrust would require an on-board power supply capable of decelerating with tremendous amounts of expended energy, which would defeat the purpose of going with a lightweight sail in the first place.

Time to invent the tractor beam, I guess...
 

Mr. Anderson

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Nov 1, 2001
22,407
0
VA
FoxyKaye said:
Come to think of it, how would you slow down? Dropping the sail will stop constant thrust, but it's not like you can rely on friction or air resistance to slow you down. Reversing the thrust would require an on-board power supply capable of decelerating with tremendous amounts of expended energy, which would defeat the purpose of going with a lightweight sail in the first place.

Time to invent the tractor beam, I guess...
The solar sails are for probes that don't really need to slow down. Like I said before, manned missions might use these as extra boost, but in the end, say on a trip to Mars, you'd have to have enough fuel for the thrusters to slow you down enough to make orbit....

D
 

stubeeef

macrumors 68030
Aug 10, 2004
2,702
2
FoxyKaye said:
Come to think of it, how would you slow down? Dropping the sail will stop constant thrust, but it's not like you can rely on friction or air resistance to slow you down. Reversing the thrust would require an on-board power supply capable of decelerating with tremendous amounts of expended energy, which would defeat the purpose of going with a lightweight sail in the first place.

Time to invent the tractor beam, I guess...
Remember aerodynamic braking in the movie 2010!
 

emw

macrumors G4
Aug 2, 2004
11,177
0
Mr. Anderson said:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/space/06/07/solarsail.vision/index.html

Again, a bit of Science Fiction meets reality. Very cool stuff and if it works as well as they think, it will transform space travel. The only thing is it won't work too well for manned missions :D

You might be able to get 100,000 mph, but how would you slow down?

D
I wonder how fast a larger craft (one capable of storing people and supplies) would actually go with this technology.
 

aloofman

macrumors 68020
Dec 17, 2002
2,206
0
Socal
emw said:
I wonder how fast a larger craft (one capable of storing people and supplies) would actually go with this technology.
Count Dooku's ship seemed to be going pretty fast! :p
 

wdlove

macrumors P6
Oct 20, 2002
16,570
0
Sounds like a technology that's time has come. The light weight will be an advantage. Nothing like free fuel.

Hopefully I will be able to view the solar sail while in orbit around the Earth. The only problem with the Planetary Society's prediction is if it happens to be cloudy. Although that is less of a problem in summer.

Are you going to try to take pictures Mr. Anderson?
 

Dont Hurt Me

macrumors 603
Dec 21, 2002
6,056
6
Yahooville S.C.
I hope that solar wind dont have waves, i just dont see this as a practical means of space travel, with dusts,rocks,pebbles,waves and who knows what else ,it doesnt look like anything more then a experiment. I hope them well but i wouldnt expect much from this. We need Nuclear power driving a ion engine or we need the military complex to come clean on a few things like MATS.
 

quackattack

macrumors 6502a
Aug 13, 2004
571
0
Boise, ID
Once deployed, The Planetary Society said the solar sail would be clearly visible from earth as it orbited the planet.
Interesting, I will have to keep my eyes to the skies!

I always find stuff like this really exciting. Call me a bit of a Sci-Fi nerd! :eek:
 

topicolo

macrumors 68000
Jun 4, 2002
1,672
0
Ottawa, ON
1) to solve solar sail tearing, any interstellar probe would obviously have more than one sail to deploy after receiving enough damage to the sail depoyed at that time

2) If the probe is being sent towards another star system (as I would assume, since just sending a probe towards the nothingness of space seems kind of stupid), you can just coat both sides of the solar sail with the reflective coating and when the probe approaches the destination star, it'll automatically slow down from that star's solar waves

both problems easily solved
 

Mr. Anderson

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Nov 1, 2001
22,407
0
VA
topicolo said:
2) If the probe is being sent towards another star system (as I would assume, since just sending a probe towards the nothingness of space seems kind of stupid), you can just coat both sides of the solar sail with the reflective coating and when the probe approaches the destination star, it'll automatically slow down from that star's solar waves

both problems easily solved
The only really big problem is the time it would take to get there. I don't think the current level of solar sail technology is viable for interstellar probes.....just for cruising out to our solar system and a short bit beyond - Oort Cloud, etc.

D
 

no_alternative

macrumors newbie
Jun 20, 2005
6
0
science question

I may be asking the wrong people here...(i am a n00b)...but i read in a science magazine that a reflective sail generates twice as much push as a non-reflective sail.
Has anyone here ever seen those little windmill-looking things that live in glass cases? they consist of 4 little metal sails set horizontally and each have the same side (respectively) painted black. Since they are inside the glass case (airtight), the sails spin around - propelled by the light that hits the black side of the sails. But this seems to be in contradiction with what the science magazine says about reflective surfaces...can someone with a brain help me out with this one?
 

MongoTheGeek

macrumors 68040
no_alternative said:
I may be asking the wrong people here...(i am a n00b)...but i read in a science magazine that a reflective sail generates twice as much push as a non-reflective sail.
Has anyone here ever seen those little windmill-looking things that live in glass cases? they consist of 4 little metal sails set horizontally and each have the same side (respectively) painted black. Since they are inside the glass case (airtight), the sails spin around - propelled by the light that hits the black side of the sails. But this seems to be in contradiction with what the science magazine says about reflective surfaces...can someone with a brain help me out with this one?
There is a little air the thingies. The black side heats up the air causing it to expand pushing the thing. If it were hard vacuum it would go slowly backwards.
 

no_alternative

macrumors newbie
Jun 20, 2005
6
0
MongoTheGeek said:
There is a little air the thingies. The black side heats up the air causing it to expand pushing the thing. If it were hard vacuum it would go slowly backwards.
Ahhh...of course of course :rolleyes:
thank you O master wizard
 

mvc

macrumors 6502a
Jul 11, 2003
760
0
Outer-Roa
Dont Hurt Me said:
... we need the military complex to come clean on a few things like MATS.
Ok, I'll bite, what's MATS, my obscure acronym translation filter is not working today.
 

Dont Hurt Me

macrumors 603
Dec 21, 2002
6,056
6
Yahooville S.C.
mvc said:
Ok, I'll bite, what's MATS, my obscure acronym translation filter is not working today.
Lets just say stealth aircraft aint nothing. leave it at that. The world isnt ready and wont be for a long,long time. Heck we cant even get along with our neighbors.
 

stubeeef

macrumors 68030
Aug 10, 2004
2,702
2
just saw a news ticker say that it never made it to orbit, the russian missle's booster stage failed! Damn!
 

stubeeef

macrumors 68030
Aug 10, 2004
2,702
2
Link
MOSCOW - The world's first solar sail spacecraft crashed back to Earth when its booster rocket failed less than two minutes after Tuesday's takeoff, Russian space officials said Wednesday.
The Cosmos 1 vehicle, a joint U.S.-Russian project, was intended to show that a so-called solar sail can make a controlled flight. Solar sails, designed to be propelled by pressure from sunlight, are seen as a potential means for achieving interstellar flight, allowing such spacecraft to gradually build up great velocity and cover large distances.

But the Volna booster rocket failed 83 seconds after its launch from a Russian nuclear submarine in the northern Barents Sea just before midnight Tuesday in Moscow, the Russian space agency said.

Its spokesman, Vyacheslav Davidenko, said that "the booster's failure means that the solar sail vehicle was lost." The Russian navy began a search for debris from the booster and the vehicle, he said.

U.S. scientists had said earlier that they possibly had detected signals from Cosmos 1 but cautioned that it could take hours or days to figure out exactly where the $4 million spacecraft was.

The signals were picked up late Tuesday after an all-day search for the spacecraft, which had suddenly stopped communicating after its launch, they said.

"It's good news because we are in orbit — very likely in orbit," Bruce Murray, a co-founder of The Planetary Society, which organized the mission, said before the Russian space agency's announcement.
 

Mr. Anderson

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Nov 1, 2001
22,407
0
VA
stubeeef said:
just saw a news ticker say that it never made it to orbit, the russian missle's booster stage failed! Damn!
Damn! again

Well, they actually don't get many failures, so hopefully someone will get a chance to send up another.

But its interesting to see that they got a few signals from the thing, but haven't heard from it since...

D
 

JupiterTwo

macrumors 6502
Mar 29, 2003
276
3
GB
Mr. Anderson said:
But its interesting to see that they got a few signals from the thing, but haven't heard from it since...
Yeah - I'm still hanging on the hope that it's in an elipical orbit, hence why they're having trouble contacting it. The Russians seem pretty keen on it being down, but with two seperate teams getting glimpses of telemetry data, you never know. Mind you, it depends on how good an orbit it's got into, and whether they can stabalise it enough to deploy :(