Monday, May 3, 2010

Solar Sailing

A British satellite is slated to be launched next year as proof of two concepts. One: that solar sails can provide solar wind powered propulsion for space-going vehicles. Two: that humans can send satellite 'garbage collectors' into orbit to clear away our space litter. The obstacles: no space craft has successfully managed controlled space flight using only solar sails and the existing swarm of space debris currently in orbit around the planet, which makes navigating orbital space a hazardous proposition. From a fiction stand point, sails of any kind are appealing and not just because I sail. On water. Sails in space sounds like fun if one can find adequate energy sources to power the sails. Could radioactivity leaking from a black hole propel a sail? Or suppose it's your satellite that's going up to collect garbage and destroy antiquated, abandoned space craft by burning it up on re-entry? Until you realize that one of your pieces of 'garbage' is fighting back...

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