Nov 9, 2015

‘Electric Sails’ Could Propel Superfast Spacecraft

Posted by in categories: particle physics, robotics/AI, space travel

SANTA CLARA, California — Robotic spacecraft may ride the solar wind toward interstellar space at unprecedented speeds a decade or so from now.

Researchers are developing an “electric sail” (e-sail) propulsion system that would harness the solar wind, the stream of protons, electrons and other charged particles that flows outward from the sun at more than 1 million mph (1.6 million kilometers per hour).

“It looks really, really promising for ultra-deep-space exploration,” Les Johnson, of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, said of the e-sail concept here at the 100-Year Starship Symposium on Oct. 30. [Superfast Spacecraft Propulsion Concepts (Images)].

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