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Directory:Solar Sails

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Directory of technologies and resources relating to solar sails, that use the principle of solar wind in space to provide propulsion.

Solar sails (also called light sails or photon sails, especially when they use light sources other than the Sun) are a proposed form of spacecraft propulsion using large membrane mirrors. Radiation pressure is about 1e-5 Pa at Earth radii and decreases by the square of the distance from the light source (e.g. sun), but unlike rockets, solar sails require no reaction mass. Although the thrust is small, it continues as long as the light source shines and the sail is deployed. In theory a lightsail powered by an Earth-based laser can even be used to decelerate the spacecraft as it approaches its destination. [1]


Solar Sail Technologies

  • Solar > Space-Based > Solar Sails >
    Solar Winds Could Provide 100 Billion Times Earth’s Energy Needs - Researchers from Washington State University have published a paper in the International Journal of Astrobiology stating that energy from solar winds could replace conventional forms of renewable energy produced on Earth such as solar, wind and biofuel power; theorizing that a giant solar sail 5,220 miles (8,400 km) wide, designed to harness solar winds, could generate 1 billion gigawatts. (Inhabitat; Oct. 5, 2010)
  • Finnish Electric Solar Sail Nears Implementation - The Finnish Meteorological Institute has produced plans to build an electric solar sail that will circle the Earth, gaining speed to test its acceleration. One possible flagship mission would be a flight out of the solar system to measure the gas, dust, plasma and magnetic field in the undisturbed interstellar space. (Slashdot; Apr. 23, 2008)

Cosmos 1

  • Sailing the galaxy - Private $4 million project to use a giant Mylar solar sail the size of a 10-story building to prove concept. Compared to flight of Kittyhawk as a first step of a long process of refinement. (; May 13, 2005)



  • Solar Sails - Latest news July 7th, 2003 - New Scientist has published an article claiming that solar sails don't work. It is based on a web page by Dr. Thomas Gold. ...

See also





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