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IPFS News Link • Science, Medicine and Technology

Latest Progress Towards Laser Pushed Solar Sails

•, Brian Wang

He has received NASA and Starshot funding. There have 100 students in his programs. They have created hardware components and performed various experiments.

The DE-STAR (Directed Energy System for Targeting of Asteroids and ExploRation) has several sizes. DE-STAR-1 is 10 meters on a side, DE-STAR-2 is 100 meters on a side, DE-STAR-3 is 1000 meters on a side and DE-STAR-4 is 10,000 meters on a side.

A full-scale DE-STAR 4 (100GW) will propel:

* a wafer-scale spacecraft with a 1 meter laser sail to about 26% of the speed of light in about 10 minutes (20kgoaccel)
* a wafer craft could reach Mars (1AU) in 30 minutes
* a wafer craft pass Voyager I in less than 3 days
* a wafer craft could pass 1,000 AU in 12 days and
* a wafer craft reach Alpha Centauri in about 20 years.

After a few minutes of laser illumination the wafers are launched. This allows hundreds of launches per day or 100,000 missions per year.

The same directed energy driver (DE-STAR 4) can also propel
* a 10 kg payload to 2.5% of light speed
* a 100 kg payload to about 1% of light speed and
a 10,000 kg payload to more than 1,000 km/s.

Systems in Earth orbit, Mars and the moon could accelerate and decelerate solar sail craft.