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Solar Sail Propulsion Race Is On__ 3 Way Race To Astroids and Beyond

Updated on March 6, 2013

Journey to Astroids__Force4Good

UN NEO working group had met on Thursday, February 14 to discuss the relatively large astroid called 2012 DA14 . Next day at 2:24 PM ET , DA14 passed by Planet Earth on a randezvous relatively close, 17,100 miles from Earth's surface.

DA14 Impact on land or sea would have been a class I natuaral disaster due to its size. Scientfically such an astroid impact is not expected statistically but once in a generation.

Last astroid impact somewhat similar in size to DA14 is remembered as the Tunguska event that occurred on June 30, 1908. The impact occurred in the air rather than ground, and knocked down among other damages, some 80 million trees in the Siberian region of Russia along the Tunguska River. Those knocked down trees were located in some 850 square miles.

Companion to DA14 fly by earth on same day, Friday, February 15, was an asteroid that entered the Russian airspace and disintegreated on a flash unknown and unexpected to scientists. Space agencies later estimated this Russian asteroid to have a mass of about 8000 Tons and 50 Feet in length. From sonic boom of the impact, glass in houses were shattered in the region. Russian news agencies reported about 1000 people were injured including 200 children from this event.

Astroid Precious Metals__Like Gold 15th Century

Much is yet to be learned from this unusal double event, DA14 fly by and Russian asteroid impact at about the same time, highly unusual and totally unexpected natual disaster event in Russia.

Now the race is on using a space propulsion called Solar Sail to reach astroids for deflection when necessary and for mining precious metals that can be valuable as gold of Americas was for mariners from Europe in the 14the Century.

There are three teams competing to develop the Solar Sail Space Propulsion Technology today. Below is a brief progress report and status. Who will get this technology working first ? It’s a combination of engineering talent, design, and efforts.

Yea, Columbus got to America first and took back some gold from the new world to his sponsor, King and Queen of Spain. Race was on between England, Spain, Holland and Portugal for gold and for other riches of the new world for markets of Europe.

Centuries later, now nations have defined a new space propulstion race/ To reach the asteroid for benefit of all earth people and perhaps save earth from the next destructive asteroid just in time .

Team A3 Plantary Society Team - With Russian Collaborators


Plaentary Society’s LightSail-1 Project is nearly complete as reported in the society’s website given below.

The plan is to lauch the spacecraft using a rocket launched from sea with launch tool made available by the Russian team member. Photos show LightSail-1 is more complex of the three teams and exact date of launch is not yet published.

Question: What is the destination of LightSai-1 space vehicle if successfully launched near term as expected ?

Photo Gallery

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NASA’s Solar Sail Project called NanoSail-D was launched in November of 2010 aboard a satellite called FASTSTAT along with 5 other experiements.

Initially NanoSail-D failed to eject and got stuck. But several months later it did eject and flew a successful mission on earth orbit. Further discussion is needed to understand NASA’s next step forward in Solar Sail Project to Astroid Belt.

Question 01: Can earth’s orbit create additional momentum for this space vehicle to go to an asteroid target ?

Photo Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Team B Japanese Space Agency


Craft is called IKAROS spacecraft . It flew successfully about the same time as NanoSail-DC. But did travel on an earth orbit. Conversation is needed to understand the next step forward for IKAROS.

Question 02: Can the sail material have an element of solar energy collectors embedded that can increase the photon momentum of the sail in future ?

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