October 08, 2003

Light Sails - followup

Victor left the following comment on my post about spacecraft propulsion concepts.

Ted, pick up a copy of the Nov 2003 issue of Discover magazine (cover story: "How Long Can The Human Body Last?"). It has an inteview with Dr. Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, which discusses the Cosmos 1 solar sail spacecraft. BTW, at the end of the interview, it says an extended version of the interview is on discover.com but I can't find it to save my life.

Discover certainly doesn't make it easy to find, that's for sure. Then I realized that they don't have the November issue online yet. But I did find a related article from August 2003. They don't allow direct links, but here's how you can get to it. From Discover's main page, click the Recent Issues button on the left. Scroll down to the August 2003 issue and click the very first article, titled Star Trek.

Why bother? Because reading the article, you'll find passages like these:

About 10 years from now, NASA plans to launch a mission called Terrestrial Planet Finder, a space telescope specifically designed to detect another Earth. The odds are good that a survey of 150 or so nearby stars will reveal at least one small, Earth-like planet.

You know we're already working towards getting there once we find it. It's early in the development process, but we are working on it.

The physics is not out of reach," says Robert Frisbee, an engineer who directs advanced propulsion concepts studies at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. His job, and his lifelong dream, is to find a way to master interstellar travel. He is studying five distinct propulsion technologies that could get an astronaut from here to Alpha Centauri in less than 50 years.

The article goes on to talk about the five technologies, which include the aforementioned light sail, referred to as a laser sail. This is a comprehensive overview of the challenges involved in going to another solar system. Food, water, air, gravity, psychology, and more. There are a number of good links at the end of the article too.

"What we're talking about here is not fantasy," Frisbee says. "It's only science fiction until someone does it"."

The meek may inherit the earth, my great-grandkids are going to the stars.

Posted by Ted at October 8, 2003 11:28 AM
Category: Space Program

Dang, I forgot about that article! Discover has become my favorite magazine lately.

Posted by: Victor at October 8, 2003 01:35 PM

Thanks for the pointer! Good stuff!!!

Posted by: Ted at October 8, 2003 02:15 PM
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