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Light Sails!

Let's hear it for the Planetary Society!

Setting Sail Into Space, Propelled by Sunshine
By Dennis Overbye

Peter Pan would be so happy.

About a year from now, if all goes well, a box about the size of a loaf of bread will pop out of a rocket some 500 miles above the Earth. There in the vacuum it will unfurl four triangular sails as shiny as moonlight and only barely more substantial. Then it will slowly rise on a sunbeam and move across the stars.

LightSail-1, as it is dubbed, will not make it to Neverland. At best the device will sail a few hours and gain a few miles in altitude. But those hours will mark a milestone for a dream that is almost as old as the rocket age itself, and as romantic: to navigate the cosmos on winds of starlight the way sailors for thousands of years have navigated the ocean on the winds of the Earth.

“Sailing on light is the only technology that can someday take us to the stars,” said Louis Friedman, director of the Planetary Society, the worldwide organization of space enthusiasts.

(here for the rest of the article)



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 10th, 2009 01:46 pm (UTC)
Wow, the New York Times quotes filk! The late Jonathan Eberhart was primarily a "folkie" but performed “A Solar Privateer” at several Balticons back in the '80s. It's been in my repertoire ever since.

Edited for typo.

Edited at 2009-11-10 01:53 pm (UTC)
Nov. 11th, 2009 12:54 am (UTC)
Way cool. I'm not sure about interstellar travel - you need one heck of a solar wind - but I could see it taking packages to the outer solar system, and bringing them back.

And NASA even managed to "sail" one of the Voyager or Pioneer probes to make a course correction, so they know it should work.
Nov. 11th, 2009 05:54 am (UTC)
Not Neverland, but someday, Helen America will sail out to New Earth and Mr Grey-no-more...
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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