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(NBC News)   Cool:in 2014 NASA will launch a craft carrying the largest solar sail ever put into orbit. Cooler: They've named the project "Sunjammer" after an Arthur C. Clarke story. Coolest: the craft will carry the remains of Gene Roddenberry aboard   (nbcnews.com) divider line 47
    More: Cool, orbits, NASA, Gene Roddenberry, Sunjammer, craft carrying, propulsion systems, interstellar space, National Space Society  
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2857 clicks; posted to Geek » on 01 Feb 2013 at 11:12 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-02-01 10:13:50 AM  
Solar Sails, Roddenberry AND Arthur C. Clarke? I nerd-came
 
2013-02-01 10:15:38 AM  
Peace out, Great Bird of the Galaxy.
 
2013-02-01 10:19:09 AM  
Starjammer would have been cooler

img191.imageshack.us
 
2013-02-01 10:19:31 AM  
Nice find, subby!  This is really cool stuff.  :)
 
2013-02-01 10:20:55 AM  
Meh. Let me know when they launch Spelljammer.
 
2013-02-01 10:38:14 AM  
How are the cremated remains actually launched?
The remains are placed in a specially designed, individual flight module or capsule which contains either seven grams or one gram of cremated remains, depending upon the service you selected. They are then integrated into the Celestis spacecraft, which is attached to the rocket and launched into space.

Why launch only a symbolic portion?
We offer the launch of a symbolic portion of the cremated remains as a memorial service, not final disposition of all the remains, because although dramatic progress is being made by entrepreneurs in reducing launch costs, spaceflight is still quite expensive. By launching a portion we can offer an affordable service, and also can provide performance assurance.

We will arrange for final disposition of the balance of the cremated remains through a sea scattering service, should you so desire.

// Gene Roddenberry's not going, not even one finger bone pointing the way onward.

// Did Scotty ever make it or was the last of his remains blown up?
 
2013-02-01 11:00:15 AM  
More Muslim outreach from NASA. Thanks, 0maba
 
2013-02-01 11:20:03 AM  

Jackson Herring: More Muslim outreach from NASA. Thanks, 0maba


LOL.
 
2013-02-01 11:20:26 AM  
"world's largest"???

Are there some already launched that are bigger?
 
2013-02-01 11:20:31 AM  
I saw some show about various scenarios that might occur if we do ever make contact with extraterrestrial life.  They talked about various ways their spacecraft might be able to travel, and this solar sail was one of them.  It was really neat stuff.
 
2013-02-01 11:25:24 AM  
0.01 N of thrust? Does anyone really think that this is ever going to be viable?
 
2013-02-01 11:29:56 AM  

notmtwain: How are the cremated remains actually launched?
The remains are placed in a specially designed, individual flight module or capsule which contains either seven grams or one gram of cremated remains, depending upon the service you selected. They are then integrated into the Celestis spacecraft, which is attached to the rocket and launched into space.

Why launch only a symbolic portion?
We offer the launch of a symbolic portion of the cremated remains as a memorial service, not final disposition of all the remains, because although dramatic progress is being made by entrepreneurs in reducing launch costs, spaceflight is still quite expensive. By launching a portion we can offer an affordable service, and also can provide performance assurance.

We will arrange for final disposition of the balance of the cremated remains through a sea scattering service, should you so desire.

// Gene Roddenberry's not going, not even one finger bone pointing the way onward.

// Did Scotty ever make it or was the last of his remains blown up?


I believe some Scotty was aboard the Dragon capsule that went up a few months back.

\ We'll all be scattered out there together in a billion or so years anyway. And after you're dead, what's a few billion years?
 
2013-02-01 11:33:27 AM  

meanmutton: 0.01 N of thrust? Does anyone really think that this is ever going to be viable?


constant accelration.  Space is frictionless, so even minimal thrust adds up quickly over time
 
2013-02-01 11:34:05 AM  

meanmutton: 0.01 N of thrust? Does anyone really think that this is ever going to be viable?


Mrs meanmutton said it was the best she ever had.
 
2013-02-01 11:38:12 AM  

meanmutton: 0.01 N of thrust? Does anyone really think that this is ever going to be viable?


I can see we're dealing with an expert on solar sails and their engineering principles here.
 
2013-02-01 11:41:48 AM  
What if they encounter some Tachyons, they might get tossed into Cardassian Space!

www.startrek.com
 
2013-02-01 11:42:52 AM  
when do we build a death star to orbit mars with the remains of lucas onboard?
 
2013-02-01 11:58:32 AM  

I drunk what: when do we build a death star to orbit mars with the remains of lucas onboard?


When he apologizes.
 
2013-02-01 12:04:51 PM  
www.kraproom.com
 
2013-02-01 01:19:57 PM  
RTFA - Mrs. Roddenberry went up, too, as it should be.

Met both of them years ago in the first con in NYC. Lovely people.
 
2013-02-01 01:22:41 PM  
Arthur C. Clarke - don't you mean Son Jammer?
 
2013-02-01 01:27:34 PM  
images4.wikia.nocookie.net
Has high hopes ...
 
2013-02-01 01:31:05 PM  

Lonestar: [www.kraproom.com image 640x512]


Save vs. Awesome or wait for 2D10 years for the Spelljammer movie that never was.
 
2013-02-01 01:41:33 PM  
We need more lasers on Mercury.
 
2013-02-01 02:08:03 PM  
 
2013-02-01 02:30:24 PM  
Sunjammer is potentially applicable to an advanced space weather warning system, which could provide more timely and accurate notice of solar flare activity.
Ok if these sails are pushed past earth -heading away from the sun- how are they going to detect something coming from the sun before it touches us? Secondly.. not much we can do to stop the sun if it wanted to burp in our directoin
 
2013-02-01 02:36:17 PM  
Is it really necessary to convert everything in the article to metric?  It's like hearing Goldmember talk.

...boasts a total surface area of nearly 13,000 square feet (1,208 square m, or one-third of an acre or 3.84x10-7 Rhode Islands).
 
2013-02-01 02:38:09 PM  

notmtwain: Did Scotty ever make it or was the last of his remains blown up?


Ye cannae break the laws of physics, or maybe the engines couldn`t take it.
 
2013-02-01 02:40:55 PM  

Jackson Herring: More Muslim outreach from NASA. Thanks, 0maba


Shoulda went with Muslin, dude.

thewhatworks.files.wordpress.com
 
2013-02-01 02:40:55 PM  

meanmutton: 0.01 N of thrust? Does anyone really think that this is ever going to be viable?


Well, this is a research prototype.

If the vehicle is really small, like say 10 kilograms, that's an acceleration of about 86.4 meters per second per day. After the first year of travel, the vehicle would have crossed 480 million kilometers, putting it halfway to Jupiter (not accounting for the gradual loss of power due to distance from the sun or the vagaries of orbital mechanics). Earth to Jupiter in two or three years is pretty good, compared to six years for Galileo, especially when you consider it's not burning an ounce of fuel.

Difficulty: to move a useful payload you need miles and miles of solar sail and at that point the materials requirements start looking space elevator-ish.
 
2013-02-01 02:54:03 PM  

Cthulhu_is_my_homeboy: meanmutton: 0.01 N of thrust? Does anyone really think that this is ever going to be viable?

Well, this is a research prototype.

If the vehicle is really small, like say 10 kilograms, that's an acceleration of about 86.4 meters per second per day. After the first year of travel, the vehicle would have crossed 480 million kilometers, putting it halfway to Jupiter (not accounting for the gradual loss of power due to distance from the sun or the vagaries of orbital mechanics). Earth to Jupiter in two or three years is pretty good, compared to six years for Galileo, especially when you consider it's not burning an ounce of fuel.

Difficulty: to move a useful payload you need miles and miles of solar sail and at that point the materials requirements start looking space elevator-ish.


I've actually read of, years ago, an elegant work-around to that: a "magnetic sail".  Basically, a large, (say 1 KM across) loop of superconducting material through which a strong current is run.  The resulting magnetic fieild would create a "virtual sail" against which the charged particle of the solar wind would push.  As a bonus that same loop of superconducter, if it could be charged and kept at an acceptable temp on earth, could actually do a slow motion boost to orbit by repelling against the earth's magnetic field (IIRC it would take about a month or so to leave the atomosphere, which isn't bad for not burning an ounce of fuel)
 
2013-02-01 03:13:06 PM  
Sun of a sailer
 
2013-02-01 03:15:09 PM  
This is good news for space pirates.
 
2013-02-01 03:19:38 PM  

Science_Guy_3.14159: What if they encounter some Tachyons, they might get tossed into Cardassian Space!

[www.startrek.com image 320x240]



Leaving satisfied...
 
2013-02-01 03:29:32 PM  

OnlyM3: Ok if these sails are pushed past earth -heading away from the sun- how are they going to detect something coming from the sun before it touches us? Secondly.. not much we can do to stop the sun if it wanted to burp in our directoin


Solar sails aren't "pushed past earth". They're in orbit around the sun, and the orbit can be changed by adjusting the angle of reflection. If you point the thrust so that it reduces your angular momentum you will move closer to the sun.

For your second point, you can't do anything to stop the sun but you can prepare for a blast of incoming radiation (e.g. re-routing airlines away from polar routes).
 
2013-02-01 03:55:58 PM  
Here's the original Arthur C Clarke story  http://williamflew.com/wfone.html
 
2013-02-01 03:57:39 PM  
images.wikia.com

dooku is pleased by this
 
2013-02-01 04:48:32 PM  
I would have preferred Solar Sail Ramrod.
 
2013-02-01 06:01:14 PM  

Magorn: meanmutton: 0.01 N of thrust? Does anyone really think that this is ever going to be viable?

constant accelration.  Space is frictionless, so even minimal thrust adds up quickly over time


Quickly over time? I'm pretty sure that's an oxymoron.
 
2013-02-01 06:06:21 PM  

Just another Heartland Weirdass: meanmutton: 0.01 N of thrust? Does anyone really think that this is ever going to be viable?

Mrs meanmutton said it was the best she ever had.


FTA: "Thinner is always better," Barnes said.

Then again, Mr Barnes is guy, so maybe his opinions are different than Mrs meanmutton's.
 
2013-02-01 06:57:05 PM  
25.media.tumblr.com

Oh wait, you said Sunjammer.
 
2013-02-01 10:42:58 PM  

Cthulhu_is_my_homeboy: meanmutton: 0.01 N of thrust? Does anyone really think that this is ever going to be viable?

Well, this is a research prototype.

If the vehicle is really small, like say 10 kilograms, that's an acceleration of about 86.4 meters per second per day. After the first year of travel, the vehicle would have crossed 480 million kilometers, putting it halfway to Jupiter (not accounting for the gradual loss of power due to distance from the sun or the vagaries of orbital mechanics). Earth to Jupiter in two or three years is pretty good, compared to six years for Galileo, especially when you consider it's not burning an ounce of fuel.

Difficulty: to move a useful payload you need miles and miles of solar sail and at that point the materials requirements start looking space elevator-ish.


Curiosity had a payload of 900kg and traveled a distance of 563 million km to get to Mars in 17 months. This is nowhere near that capable.

You don't just travel directly out from Earth's orbit (the direction that would maximize solar wind).

Plus, how does a solar sail vehicle decelerate? How does it tack back towards the sun? The further you get from the sun, the slower the solar wind.

How does any of this even remotely equal, let alone surpass, what we've done with rocketry?

Your final point is the key - how much physical material do we need in order to propel something of actual substance?
 
2013-02-02 01:15:19 AM  

Well I use Mac/Linux...: I saw some show about various scenarios that might occur if we do ever make contact with extraterrestrial life.  They talked about various ways their spacecraft might be able to travel, and this solar sail was one of them.  It was really neat stuff.



This solar sail was one of them? Clearly we should lock the thing up in Cheyenne Mountain, then.
 
2013-02-02 01:56:15 AM  

meanmutton: How does any of this even remotely equal, let alone surpass, what we've done with rocketry?


High-thrust propulsion will always give you the lowest travel time over short distances. That's the key, short distances. The thing about chemical rockets though, is while they can produce millions of pounds of thrust, they have burn times measured in seconds. Passive propulsion like a solar sail can "burn" for years with gradually diminishing output. When you start looking at much longer travel distances, like to the heliopause, the solar sail gets there much faster than a chemical rocket (the ion engine is much faster still, but it requires exotic fuel and an onboard nuclear reactor for long trips).

You asked if the solar sail could ever be viable. The answer is yes, for very specific tasks. If you need to move a small, lightweight payload a really long way, and you can't afford to launch a nuclear-powered vehicle with ten tons of fuel, the solar sail starts looking pretty attractive, assuming you can produce a material that's light and strong enough to provide tens of thousands of square meters of sail per kilogram without losing its shape (super-mylar, basically).

But obviously there are severe downsides as you noted. 99% of the mass of the vehicle has to be in the sail (or the payload itself has to be part of the sail, which might become feasible with flexible computer circuits, etc), although a rocket designed to reach the same final velocity will be 99% fuel too. And it's probably a one-way trip (I have read a proposal for how to make a solar sail produce reverse thrust before, but I don't remember how it's supposed to work, and in any case the reverse thrust would be just as miniscule as the forward thrust). You need carbon nanotubes or something to form the structure that keeps the sail rigid. And there are problems with gradual erosion of the sail by space debris, diminishing sunlight according to the inverse square law, etc.

Are you going to shuttle people around the solar system with solar sails? No. Could you use it for a one-way flyby mission of a Kuiper Belt Object carrying not much more than a camera and a radio transmitter? Yes. It's a possible means of doing long-range science on the relative cheap, with a mission timeline of several years rather than a few decades.
 
2013-02-02 06:52:03 AM  
Sunjammer

mlblogsbrewersbeat.files.wordpress.com
 
2013-02-02 08:03:48 AM  
While it would add extra complexity and mass to the design there is no real reason you can't have a vehicle with a solar sail and an ion drive along with normal attitude thrusters. Either use solar cells as the sail surface (they can make them quite thin and lightweight now) or use the highly reflective sail surface as a reflector to concentrate light on a collector with some high efficiency cells. I don't think we are at the point where it would provide all the power needed for an ion drive but the extra mass of the solar power system might be more than made up for by a reduction in the total mass needed for the reactor and fuel.

You could even design a probe to coast to the outer regions of the solar system using the sail and then collapse (or reconfigure) the sail and fire the ion drive to return. Swing it around Pluto and take some nice pictures and data readings to bring back with it. It would take a few years but i bet it could generate a lot of nice press. The whole mission could still end up costing less than some politicians reelection campaigns.
 
2013-02-02 09:54:36 AM  
When are we going to start launching things from the http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Clarke_Belt&redirect=no
 
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