Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Solar spacecraft set to blast off

"The world's first solar sail spacecraft takes flight on Tuesday, launched by space enthusiasts who cobbled the privately funded mission together on $4 million and an untested theory that light can power limitless space exploration."

With an advanced, laser-powered version of this technique it should be possible to accelerate an interstellar craft to relativistic speeds . . . and introduce the somewhat mind-bending prospect of time-dilation.

I think the first time I encountered the idea for solar sails was in Pierre Boulle's "Planet of the Apes" (a book that's infinitely more nuanced and effective than the movies).


W.M. Bear said...

Didn't NASA test a solar sail a number of years back? (Or was planning to and then it got cancelled?) I definitely seem to recall something about this.

BTW, love the pic! The cave chick must have been a VERY bad girl to be escorted away like that by those dorky-looking astronauts(?) (The one on the left definitely looks like he's sneaking a peek!)

Mac said...

I think the Planetary Society had plans to test a very small solar sail. Evidently it never happened.

The cave chick is "Nova," appearing in "Beneath the Planet of the Apes." The "astronauts" are mutants who live underground and take their faces off while worhipping nuclear missiles. (You have to see it.)

The actress who played Nova made a local appearance at a comic book convention in 2003 (alongside none other than astronaut Edgar Mitchell). I *almost* went.

W.M. Bear said...

I caught most of the POTA series. Missed this one, though. The "mutants" sound like Bush Republicans!

TheUltimateCyn said...

***and it flops, thanks for coming***