Tiny laser-propelled spaceships could travel to the far reaches of the solar system and beyond

Dec 9, 2020
A unique and seemingly cost effective idea for space exploration. However, to obtain results in useful time frames, it seems to me that probe speeds about 90% or so the speed of light are necessary.
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Mar 7, 2022
One thing not mentioned in the article is how the probes are expected to return data - especially the tiny interstellar ones - they're tiny, so probably have little tx power. Maybe they're not meant to send data - just to be read by the inhabitants of distant worlds? Like, "Hey we're over here! Come see us!"

I can see how the larger interplanetary probes could be designed to return data - possibly launch some that are just relays, that park in intermediary orbits along the way.


"There never was a good war, or a bad peace."
Oh dear, not another one! In case you missed it, please read the following. There is more if you want it.

Probably the most practical and informative approach you can find is in the book "Extraterrestrial" by Avi Loeb, John Murray (Publishers), 2021. Author is Chair of Harvard's Astronomy Department, and all the rest - one of the world's top astrophysicists.

He was approached by a billionaire over a special project. This guy wanted to fund a mission to the Centauri system, to arrive there during his lifetime - unmanned of course. Conventional chemical propulsion would require over 100,000 years. Avi came up with the idea of using a light sail. However, this is totally impracticable for anything over a few grams. They only wanted to take pictures and similar as they passed by. Obviously it would take too long to stop.

The system uses a 100 gigawatt laser beam. It is stated that everything they propose be within existing technological bounds. This is no joke. It is a serious mission. To avoid burning the sails, they had to absorb less than 1/ 100,000 of the (laser) light striking them.

There is an article published in Astrophysical Journal, October 2015, by Avi and James Guillochon on lightsails. It was decided to announce the Starshot Initiative, as they call it, on April 12 2016, On the stage were included Stephen Hawking, Freeman Dyson and Yuri Milner.

Cat :)

Oh, I will just add this from all the remaining information:

The array would also need access to enough energy to fire a coherent 100 gigawatt laser beam for several minutes during each . . . launch.
That's roughly the amount of power generated by all the nuclear power plants in the U.S. in a given year."
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