Space Exploration/Solar Sails


Hi Rangutan
Iím a student in grade 12 in Australia and I am currently trying to answer my question which is ĎAre solar sails a viable form of space travel?í If you have an understanding of this topic, could you please provide me with an insight into the benefits and disadvantages of using solar sails as propulsion for space craft? I am also interested in the actual construction and operation of the craft. In addition, I have a basic understanding of the momentum transfer from photons onto the sail but if there is any scientific information you could provide on the operation of solar sails it would be greatly appreciated.
What is the current status on the use of solar sails? Is it still experimental or has is moved past that stage?
Thank you

Solar Sail Test
Solar Sail Test  
Hi Jaya
Whilst fueled rockets will do most our work in space-travel for a long while, alternative methods of acceleration like solar-sails are important for smaller interplanetary loads. Bringing fuel and heavy motors into orbit is expensive but much lighter sails definitely more economic. Sails will be considered for missions with endless paths like those to the outer planets and beyond where no deceleration is planned. This method is therefore not ideal for manned travel. For a good working example see the Japanese "IKAROS" project. I believe NASA has dumped plans to research this method for now in favour of ion thrust.
Here is a good link and contact for this subject:

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I can answer most questions about the past, present and future space missions. As a hobby since the 1969 Moon Landing, I have been watching and studying space travel and have many resources and theories concerning the future. I have visited NASA many times and have communication with ESA. I have developed a new theory as to what gravity is, mainly that tachyons (bosons) are radiating beyond the speed of light from black-holes and it is those waves when hitting material, causing the material to be heavy or "appear" to attract each other. This is why the universe is expanding.


Hobby but I would give 5 years of my salary to travel in space for just a few days!

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