Questions tagged [light-sail]

questions about spacecraft propelled by the reflection of light, either from the Sun, or an artificial source.

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9
votes
4answers
419 views

How will Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking's nanobots decelerate and transmit data upon arrival at Alpha Centauri?

Does anyone know what exactly is their plan, once they get there? How is that nano-thing going to slow down / take images / send data back to us? I couldn't find any information on this.
7
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2answers
383 views

Lightsail-2: Increased Orbit from Sunlight or Lowering Periapsis?

Has Lightsail-2 really increased the total energy of its orbit by utilising energy from sunlight, or has it simply exchanged energy by lowering its periapsis in order to raise its apoapsis? And if so, ...
7
votes
1answer
162 views

Planetary Society's LightSail Spacecraft's corner cube reflectors; how large, and corrected for aberration?

The Planetary Society's new 3U cubesat LightSail spacecraft (mentioned in this answer) has corner-cube retroreflectors on on the 10x10 cm +z end, facing directly away from the sail, which will be ...
4
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1answer
122 views

Could you track small particles in space and could you control their position with lasers or reflected light?

If you released a large amount of small but precise particles (the size of glitter or confetti) is space, between a group of cube sats. Could you track the particles with cameras and/or lasers? And ...
4
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2answers
3k views

How long would it take for a light sail to make it to Proxima Centauri and what speed would it get to?

The new discovery of a small planet keeping Proxima Centauri company prompted my imagination into overtime. There are four parts to this: If we were to deploy a small probe on a light sail how long ...
4
votes
1answer
94 views

What are the benefits from using the Sun as a gravitational lens for beamed interstellar propulsion?

What would be gained from placing a powerplant with a photon beam canon and a light sail on opposite sides of the Sun, perfectly alligned, both at >550 AU from the Sun? That'swhere the lens starts, ...
3
votes
1answer
46 views

Specific reflected energy of current materials for light sail

Projects like Breakthrough Starshot or LightSail investigate a concept of probe gaining momentum by reflecting laser beam by a light sail. Material used for such a sail has to be very thin to minimize ...
3
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1answer
91 views

How will The Planetary Society's LightSail 2 Spacecraft's retroreflectors be used?

For more information and links on The Planetary Society's LightSail 2 and its corner cube retroreflectors, see the question Planetary Society's LightSail Spacecraft's corner cube reflectors; how large,...
3
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0answers
199 views

Why would “Breakthrough Starshot” need photon thrusters?

Found here (italics added, bold in source): Nanocrafts are gram-scale robotic spacecrafts comprising two main parts: StarChip: Moore’s law has allowed a dramatic decrease in the size of ...
2
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1answer
145 views

Total delta-v expected from Lightsail-2's solar sail before end of mission, and why end it so soon?

While Bill Nye has recently gotten quite upset at us for some things (strong language for Bill Nye warning), in the video below he expresses heartfelt thanks to all members of the Planetary Society ...
2
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2answers
263 views

Solar sail and debris shielding

If a space craft is to travel at 0.6 c, how must one design a protection system such that any and all debris collisions with the sail do not render it damaged for further use? Is it possible to employ ...
2
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0answers
28 views

Where is this LightSail-2 trajectory data coming from? Is there more than TLEs available to the public?

This tweet shows high granularity data for LightSail-2's perigee and apogee, showing that while the apogee-raising strategy is working nicely, currently atmospheric drag is taking its toll and the ...
1
vote
1answer
149 views

How does lightsail 2 plan to raise its apogee

Lightsail 2 is supposed to be a demonstration flight for solar sail technology. They plan to demonstrate that they can raise the apogee of their satellite using only light pressure on their sail. But ...
1
vote
1answer
134 views

Can light sails be stopped (after 20 years)? What will happen after the 20 years (after their journey)?

At that time will they be destroyed? Or can they come back? Or will we simply cut the laser power? And if we can make the size of the craft big enough so that a person can be on-board (without ...
1
vote
1answer
86 views

Maximum size for a Ion thruster solar array

In other questions I have asked about using a solar sail to double as a reflective mirror to provide light to an ion engine. What would be the maximum size or surface area of a parabolic sail where ...
1
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1answer
62 views

What kind of transmitters and antennas do the Lightsail-2 ground stations use?

The cubesat Lightsail-2 has been deployed and has communicated with ground stations. See The Planetary Society's LightSail 2 Healthy as Mission Team Continues Spacecraft Checkouts, where it says: ...