Solar Sail Lunar Cargo Transport Vehicle

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mr_mark

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What about a solar sail vehicle powered by lasers to transport in Earth orbit cargo to Lunar orbit and back again. Landers could then transport the cargo to the lunar surface. It seems that the Japanese solar sail that is going to Venus is working fine and provides a good test bed for the technology. Lasers pushing on the sail would greatly speed it up and make it a practical transport option. I could see a vehicle similar to say Orbital's Cygnus cargo module being fitted with a solar sail and pushed along with lasers.
 
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samkent

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Which is cheaper?
Adding thrusters to the transport.
Building multiple redundant ground bases lasers around the globe.

Why would a sail be faster than a thruster?
 
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holmec

Guest
Cargo doesn't need speed, but renewable thrust. Solar sail is the only renewable thrust tech available. Chem thrusters are expensive to fly. But a solar sail could be expensive to build initially. It could do multiple trips, and that's the payoff.
 
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EarthlingX

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I like this idea, especially for cargo trips, or for return of spent stages for reuse or recycling, at least in the inner Solar System.
I expect to see solar sails being used as a station keeping solution for satellites, not just yet, but soon.

I'm not so sure about using lasers, that's something different, besides, no need for that so close to Sun as Earth-Moon.
 
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samkent

Guest
I think the durability and reusability of solar sails are a big problem. What do you do with them during the down times? Roll them up? How many times can you furl and unfurl those things before they tear or snag?

Sails on watercraft have a short lifespan compared to the ship itself.
Where thrusters normally last the life of the craft.
 
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