Re: Solar sailing

From: Spike Jones (
Date: Fri Mar 02 2001 - 22:14:19 MST

> Hmm...if you could make the mass driver and power supply light enough
> (a significant challenge, no doubt),
> what about doing the reverse? That is, fire your pellets away from
> the direction you wish to go, fast enough and with enough drag that
> they would vaporize before coming into contact with anything, and use
> the recoil as lift....
> Standard Idea Question: So, what obvious fallacy am I missing in the
> above? ^_^;

Nothing. In principle this scheme would provide thrust, but its not clear
the advantage of having the propellant in a solid form to start with.
Why not just use the standard liquid fuel with the energy to drive
the propellant stored in the propellant itself?

By now you have likely heard the sad news about the X33 cancellation.
Altho I am disappointed, I cannot say I am surprised. I never had much
hope that the Venture Star or the X34 would go. At conferences of
the Society of Aerospace Weight Engineers, a society to which I have
belonged for about 16 years, side sessions would often form to discuss
single stage to orbit. I attended these but often felt they lose sight of
ultimate goal, which is cheap access to space. The SSTO guys seem to
think the ultimate goal is SSTO. My observation only, but it leads me
to post my own slogan, which should be my sig line:

Anything that can be done with one stage can be done better with two. spike

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