A Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel

Giovanni Vulpetti, Les Johnson and Gregory L. Matloff

SOLAR SAILS Space Sailing May Seem Like Science Fiction. . . But It Is Soon to Become a Reality

The first part of this book describes our heritage of exploration in water-borne sailing ships, then moves quickly into the details of space-vehicle propulsion. Space sailing, the authors point out, is "free," meaning it overcomes the problems inherent in having to carry along heavy, costly, and often dangerous propellants. Also discussed are advanced space-propulsion systems, such as nuclear, solar-electric, nuclear-electric and antimatter rockets. The second part of the book describes various sail systems using either sunlight or the "solar wind." Laser and microwave systems are also described, and the relative merits of each system are compared. The third major section describes the design, fabrication and steering challenges associated with solar sails - they are significant, but not insurmountable. Finally, a fourth section goes into details of space-sailing technology for the more technical reader. Solar Sails is filled with details sure to interest both novice space enthusiasts and those who are contemplating more advanced studies of the topic:

Table of Contents


    I Space Engines: Past and Present
  1. Historical Introduction to Space Propulsion
  2. The Rocket: How It Works in Space
  3. Rocket Problems and Limitations
  4. Non-Rocket In-Space Propulsion
  5. The Solar-Sail Option: From the Oceans to Space

  6. II Space Missions by Sail
  7. Principles of Space Sailing
  8. What Is a Space Sailcraft?
  9. Sails Versus Rockets
  10. Exploring and Developing Space by Sailcraft
  11. Riding a Beam of Light

  12. III Construction of Sailcraft
  13. Designing a Solar Sail
  14. Building a Sailcraft
  15. Progress to Date
  16. Future Plans

  17. IV Space Sailing: Some Technical Aspects
  18. Space Sources of Light
  19. Modeling Thrust from Electromagnetic Radiation Pressure
  20. Sailcraft Trajectories
  21. Sails in the Space Environment


Extent: 264 pages with 8 page colour selection
Binding: CB & J
Publication Date: July 2008
ISBN: 978-0-387-34404-1

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