Mkoll wrote: BlackBird wrote:
We shall see. I think it's unlikely they'll make their deadline, but it's gotta happen sooner or later.
I'm more excited about Solar Sails
and the possibility for interstellar space travel. With solar sails, we have the potential to visit other stars within 20 years of a probe leaving earth, by their constant acceleration, scientists reckon a well built solar sail could reach speeds of 1/10th the speed of light. This is fantastic technology. Current models could reach Mars in a month, rather than 3 years.
It's interesting that sails using the power of natural wind were the primary way of fast travel on the seas before engines, as far as I know. And now we may be going back to sails in space using the power of natural radiation pressure and solar wind until we can build some incredible engine that outruns them.
To the best of my knowledge, the solar sail works on photons from the light of the sun bouncing off the sail, it gains momentum twice: from the photon pushing onto the sail, and pushing off, so yes - electromagnetical radiation, but I don't think they utilize solar wind.
There is however a competing technology that utilises microwaves, it would seem they will use giant dishes pointed at the sail to generate movement. They are also thinking of using giant lasers on Earth to help speed up the solar sails.
Other than that, you're quite right, it has come full circle, and the irony is not lost on us.