Re: Interstellar travel [was Re: Recycling solar sails]

From: Michael Lorrey (
Date: Mon Mar 26 2001 - 14:59:50 MST

"Robert J. Bradbury" wrote:
> On Sun, 25 Mar 2001, zeb haradon wrote:
> > If you are going on a one way trip, the sails will become useless at some
> > distance away from the sun (or the lasers, as they disperse). If you're
> > making a trip to another solar system, you could then reel the sails in,
> > grind them up, and use them as propellant. This would dictate what type of
> > material you can make the sails out of.
> Zeb, I think the general strategy for interstellar trips should be to
> take as little mass with you as possible. You want to use "matter
> beams" driven by mass drivers to provide the fuel over long distances.
> Lasers will spread out, but matter bonded together will not. You
> could even ship alternating packages of matter and anti-matter.
> You can provide sufficient on-board navigational intelligence
> in the matter shipments to keep them targeted properly over
> many parsecs of travel.

The new magnetic sail technologies, which use a magnetic field to
contain a plasma based 'sail' balloon that reacts against the solar
wind, don't suffer performance degradation with distance, since the
magnetic field expands as solar flux pressure decreases, the cross
sectional total pressure remains the same. Its a rather slick solution
to the sail's diminishing returns problems, and allows for the use of
particle accellerators in place of lasers to provide additional
propellant mass.

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