The Atlas V Booster has officially taken off from Cape Canaveral, but for a series of small satellites the mission has only just begun. The goal is testing some experimental satellites, which haven’t ever been tested to date, and would be completely revolutionary to the industry of space travel, space satellites and more. The premise of the satellites is relatively simple. Fuel is a commodity and an expensive one at that. If crafts were somehow able to eliminate the need for traditional fuel – then the results could be incredible. The amount of money that would be saved could very easily make many more space programs and missions financially feasible.
It is formally called LightSail and does exactly what it sounds like. It takes the energy from the sun, or other stars and utilizes it to actually power the craft. It can take these photons, which are given off by the sun and other stars, and turns it into fuel. That ultimately saves room on would-be spacecraft’s and gives them the ability to last a longer period of time in space. It would reduce the cost of these missions, which would mean that more money could be spent on putting them together and going through the planning phases.
Rex Ridenoure, the CEO of Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation pointed out that, pointed to some of the differences between this and traditional methods for dealing with solar energy. He said, “Contrary to what you might read on NPR and other places, this does not work by using the ‘solar wind,’ which is ions and electrons.” This is significant because it takes the emphasis away from utilizing traditional portions of the suns energy and focuses on using the most fundamental portions of the suns energy.
It’s this type of plan that could change the way people perceive space travel and how the cost portion is managed. That’s something that will have a major impact on the longevity of various space programs that are contingent on cutting costs as time goes on, because a success with this technology – in this type of application will prove to be incredibly powerful in the long term with other types of energy. In all, with the early success it has had – it will be interesting to see if Sagan’s idea can be something that propels space aviation further into the future.