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Comments on Earth To Mars In A Month With Painted Solar Sail
Gregory Benford, professor of physics at UC Irvine (and noted science fiction author) believes that a spacecraft powered by a special kind of solar sail could reach Mars in just one month. (Read the complete story)

"This news was discussed on Slashdot, and the concensus seemed to be that this was impractical, due to the need for a very big microwave transmitter.
(Yes, I mention the discrepancy between the microwave transmitter needed and the ones currently available. Still, it's an interesting concept.)"
(Andy 2/10/2005 7:39:54 AM)
"Why not hoist a series of solar-powered microwave transmitters into orbit, and power the craft from there. That would remove the need for the ground-tracking effect required by ground-based emitters. Furthermore, they would not need to be quite so powerful, as they would be able to operate for longer periods of time on the target sail."
(Marky-Boy 2/11/2005 1:47:55 AM)
"Oh, just thought. How do you propose to slow this thing down once you get it to Mars? 60km/s is a lot of speed to scrub off. Perhaps a matching set of microwave emitters in Mars orbit could act on the craft in the opposing direction, thus slowing the craft down prior to orbital insertion."
(Marky-Boy 2/11/2005 2:08:10 AM)
"Wouldn't it be better to build the microwave beam on the moon? Use lunar solar power. No atmosphere and close promiximity to the sail may reduce the power requirements, or increase the speed perhaps. "
(Grooble (space.com) 2/12/2005 4:31:59 AM)
"Dear fellow space inthusiasts: This sounds good except; what happens to all the carbon monoxide? Doesn't it return to our atmosphere. We already have a problem with pollution."
(Peggy 2/12/2005 10:18:56 AM)
"A 'novel' idea worthy of more experimentation. 60mw is a lot of terrestrial microwave power. One may wonder about the effect on Earth's atmospheric molecules with that level of power. An orbital generator is intriguing. Finally, the article states that Mars is close for a solar sail-driven craft travelling at a speed of 21,000 km/hr. Based on the possibility of the craft reaching 60 km/sec, I'd suggest Mars is even closer still at 216,000 km/hour (60km/sec x 60sec x 60min). Of course, it would take some time to reach optimum velocity from low Earth orbit."
(Rigel 2/12/2005 11:09:38 AM)
"Would it be possible to use an array of megawatt beams rather than one single 60 megawatt beam?"
(Charlie Benjamin 2/13/2005 4:14:02 PM)
"Is that coating or paint in fact a STEALTH coating or paint? It may better be, because if it reflects part, it would harm radio communications on Earth, because of the great intensity involved. ......................... Also that's why it may better be launched from or near Moon, by transmitters that are made from Moon materials by robots. .............. Current tranmit powers are not comparable, because they are intended to carry information, not energy. 60Mw is not so much, compared to 1000Mw uranium plants. ------------------------------ What about ion accelerators on the Moon transmitting the energy to the sail, instead of microwave, laser or Sun? ............. What if high-energy-light photoelectric effect ejects electrons from sail? "
(leviret 2/14/2005 9:08:05 AM)
""As science fiction readers know, this topic was explored in the 1974 novel Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. They used the idea of laser cannon from Robert L. Forward's 1961 paper Ground-Based Lasers For Propulsion In Space to bring an alien spacecraft to our solar system." Actualy, it wasn'ty our solar system at all and our solar system was only mentioned in either that book or its sequal as a jump off point for the human empire."
( 2/20/2005 7:32:59 AM)

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