Space Sail for Interstellar Travel

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I had an idea for a space sail for interstellar travel. The premise of the sail works on Light and Dark, similar to the toy spinners in a vacuum bulb where one is painted white and the other side painted black. This is a well known concept and can be found on the internet in many places. My idea is to bring three new materials together to create a flexible lightweight interstellar space sail that is practical for commercial use.

In talking with Liane Hopuluk (Lowell MI) she told me that she recently discovered a material (Skived PTFE ThermoPore_.020” thick DF230 ePTFE1) sold by Ken Milam, which comes tissue paper thin and is very flexible, even at -20C, and is 100% reflective from 100nm to 1000nm, and likely over a larger range. The idea is make a 4 square meter sheet (or larger depending on where it can be assembled and launched), use some "spider webbing" from Bolt or KraigLabs to make a parachute like contraption, imbed the spider silk into the PTFE and coat the back of the PTFE with a "forest of vertically aligned single-walled carbon nanotubes" (Communicated by Sumio Iijima, Meijo University, Nagoya, Japan, January 29, 2009) to blacken it as a perfect black body, then fold it to the proper shape allowing deployment with the lasers or strong light intensity. Recently I used this material to make inexpensive integrating SLS spheres for repeatable UVC/D measurement.

Bringing these three advances in material and using them together, I hope will spark some ideas for how to create the future of space sails.
Michael J. Kosak Byron Center, Michigan 49315


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  • Name:
    Michael Kosak
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    Article on Space sailing for interstellar travel from Scientific America
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