Lightsail | Structure

Building a skeleton structure that will be able to hold the sail in shape during launch, be resilient to the interaction with the interstellar medium and potentially be able to modify the shape of the sail, is a major challenge given the gram-scale mass constraint. There are a number of composite graphene-based materials that are being considered. These materials change their length depending on the voltage applied across them. There are also various other materials that could be engineered to meet mission requirements. This challenge is the primary argument for ‘replacing structure with spin’: it has already ben demonstrated that centripetal acceleration of tiny tip masses can pull the sail flat.

Aug 26, 2016 11:34 william@theroses.me.uk Posted on: Breakthrough Initiatives

I have just realised that I don't think it necessary to launch from Earth where they will have to pass through the atmosphere. Why not take them in parts up to the ISS and have astronauts construct them there where they then drop them out of the airlock away from the ISS and when they are far enough away you fire up the laser and get them out of orbit. this would mean they wouldn't have to be as strong.

Aug 26, 2016 15:08 michael.million@sky.com Posted on: Centauri Dreams

We could have a torus balloon go up with steerable lens in the middle which could be used to focus some laser light onto a craft with on-board propellant which carries the light sails into orbit. The laser system could also be used to propel other craft into orbit on non sail launch days, it is this integration with other systems that will aid the whole project immensely. We should not just look at the laser system as a dedicated sail project but how it could be used to aid a lot of space projects at once.

Perhaps you have a separate heading on this site to see how many other projects can be integrated into the design concept, more the merrier, which will ultimately bring down the cost of the system.

Oct 01, 2016 18:18 Stan Evans Posted on: Breakthrough Initiatives

If they were to be launched from earth then why not do so from a position which has a thinner atmosphere, such as higher up or at one of the poles, the latter of which could have to be weighed up against the benefits of launching from near to the equator.

Nov 05, 2016 03:11 Breakthrough Initiatives Posted on: Breakthrough Initiatives

RE:
"Oct 01, 2016 18:18Stan EvansPosted on: Breakthrough Initiatives
If they were to be launched from earth then why not do so from a position which has a thinner atmosphere, such as higher up or at one of the poles, the latter of which could have to be weighed up against the benefits of launching from near to the equator."

Answer:
Our current target systems are only visible from the south pole and significantly out of the plane of the ecliptic. We considered going to the south pole which has many advantages of thin stable atmosphere, good view etc. But it was estimated that the cost would be 2 to 5 times more expensive than placing the array in other locations.

- Avi Loeb, Breakthrough Starshot

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