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Old 07-25-2019, 03:29 PM
 
Location: Seattle
2,396 posts, read 506,465 times
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The LightSail 2 just deployed its sail:

https://www.sciencealert.com/lightsa...-looks-amazing

Can't wait for it to start tacking...
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Old 07-26-2019, 03:43 AM
 
Location: Missouri, USA
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In 2015, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner established Breakthrough Initiatives, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). In April of the following year, he and the organization be founded announced the creation of Breakthrough Starshot, a program to create a lightsail-driven “wafercraft” that would make the journey to the nearest star system – Proxima Centauri – within our lifetime.
In the latest development, on Wednesday May 23rd, Breakthrough Starshot held an “industry day” to outline their plans for developing the Starshot laser sail. During this event, the Starshot committee submitted a Request For Proposals (RFP) to potential bidders, outlining their specifications for the sail that will carry the wafercraft as it makes the journey to Proxima Centauri within our lifetimes.
As we have noted in several previous articles, Breakthrough Starshot calls for the creation of a gram-scale nanocraft being towed by a laser sail. This sail will be accelerated by an Earth-based laser array to a velocity of about 60,000 km/s (37,282 mps) – or 20% the speed of light (o.2 c). This concept builds upon the idea of a solar sail, a spacecraft that relies on solar wind to push itself through space.

https://www.universetoday.com/139400...other-stars-1/

This is really cool. It sounds like it's going to be extraordinarily expensive to get to Alpha Centauri, and therefore I doubt we should be doing it anytime soon...but this is really cool nonetheless.
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Old 07-27-2019, 12:05 PM
 
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I would think that flimsy solar sails traveling at 20% of the speed of light (that's still incredibly fast) would encounter problems such as heavy particles as well as dust which could completely destroy the sail long before it ever arrived near the Alpha Centauri system.
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Old 07-27-2019, 01:09 PM
 
Location: Seattle
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I suspect the biggest problem would probably be cosmic rays, which can zap the electronics. Actual matter is very, very sparse out there.
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Old 07-27-2019, 07:41 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjshae View Post
I suspect the biggest problem would probably be cosmic rays, which can zap the electronics. Actual matter is very, very sparse out there.
I agree about the cosmic rays. I apologize in that I was thinking of the plan for Breakthrough Starshot traveling to Alpha Centauri. Lightsail 2, as I understand, is aimed more at just testing the sail system in orbit around the Earth, along with a few other projects. But my point for actual interstellar travel still stands, unless some pretty advanced techniques are developed.
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Old 07-28-2019, 11:26 AM
 
Location: Seattle
2,396 posts, read 506,465 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NightBazaar View Post
I agree about the cosmic rays. I apologize in that I was thinking of the plan for Breakthrough Starshot traveling to Alpha Centauri. Lightsail 2, as I understand, is aimed more at just testing the sail system in orbit around the Earth, along with a few other projects. But my point for actual interstellar travel still stands, unless some pretty advanced techniques are developed.
As I understanding, the project is to send a thousand tiny spacecraft toward the target. Even with a high rate of attrition, hopefully a significant portion will make it there and send back some information.
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Old 08-01-2019, 10:20 AM
 
Location: Seattle
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The vehicle has successfully modified its orbit using the solar sail:

LightSail 2 Spacecraft Successfully Demonstrates Flight by Light | The Planetary Society

Thus far it's only been a difference of two kilometers, but that's enough to demonstrate the concept works.

Maybe they can send a craft to the Moon next?
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