Space probes which travel to the outer planets usually use RTGs to provide power as photovoltaic cells are impractical at those distances from the Sun. Solar sail could be used to first propel the spacecraft and once the craft is very far away from the Sun and the sail is not very useful, it could be refocused on a small solar panel, multiplying the panel's effective size by a large factor.

Given the current issues with the Non-Proliferation Treaty making the production of suitable isotopes for RTGs politically problematic, why is this concept not widely used? Is it because the technology readiness level of solar sails is too low or am I overlooking something?



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