Recycling solar sails

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Fri Mar 23 2001 - 08:13:12 MST

While we all seem to be in space colonisation mode, what about
re-using solar sail material?

In my asteroid mining scheme, I send extra equipment using solar sails
to the NEO mining base. So what do we do with them once at Orpheus; we
can't have them litter the landscape. A solar sail would make a
rather easily constructed solar oven when bent into a paraboloid and
somehow anchored to the asteroid. They can also make a solar shade
for the extracted fuel tanks during the trip back home to keep cooling
of the hydrogen simple.

Would it make economic sense to send them back to Earth to receive new
cargos (I guess they are not that useful for transporting propellant
or other heavy products from the asteroid)?

Another use would be for the aerobraking part of the mission, where
the fuel tanks are aerobraked for entry into LEO. The sails are
definitely too flimsy to survive aerobraking in themselves, but I
wonder if they might help provide some extra drag during the first
pass. Any views on this?

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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