Solar Sails: A Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel / Edition 1

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Overview

The reality of sunlight-based sailing in space began in May 2010, and solar sail technology and science have continued to evolve rapidly through new space missions. Using the power of the Sun's light for regular travel propulsion will be the next major leap forward in our journey to other worlds. This book is the second edition of the fascinating explanation of solar sails, how they work and how they will be used in the exploration of space. Updated with 35% new material, this second edition includes three new chapters on missions operated by Japan and the US, as well as projects that are in progress. The remainder of the book describes the heritage of exploration in water-borne sailing ships and the evolution to space-vehicle propulsion; as well as nuclear, solar-electric, nuclear-electric and antimatter rocket devices. It also discusses various sail systems that may use either sunlight or solar wind, and the design, fabrication and steering challenges associated with solar sails. The first edition was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews, and deemed “a title that needs to be on your shelf if you’re seriously interested in the next step as we move beyond rocketry" (Centauri Dreams, September 2008). Written with a mixed approach, this book appeals to both the general public as well as those with a more scientifically technical background.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
From the reviews:

"Conceptually simple and romantic, solar sailing is an enchanting technological solution for space exploration. … Solar Sails: A Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel is the latest book to explore this topic … . Aimed at undergraduates, the book convincingly captures the history of ideas about solar sails, their current state of play and their future promise. … Suitable for aerospace students and keen enthusiasts alike, this book may one day inspire some of them to build a solar-sail-powered vessel." (Stuart Clark, Nature, Vol. 452, April, 2008)

"You would … find a more knowledgable team to write a book titled Solar Sails: A Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel (Copernicus, 2008), and it’s a pleasure to add that despite the sub-title, questions of interstellar significance receive solid treatment. … a title that needs to be on your shelf if you’re seriously interested in the next step as we move beyond rocketry." (Centauri Dreams, September, 2008)

"Solar sails have for decades promised to revolutionize in-space transportation. … In Solar Sails, Giovanni Vulpetti, Les Johnson, and Gregory L. Matloff try to serve both nontechnical and technical audiences by dividing the book into four parts. … The result is a book that provides does provide a comprehensive yet readable overview of how solar sails work and how they could be used in the near future." (Jeff Foust, The Space Review, October, 2008)

"This is a top-notch treatment of a propulsion concept that’s clearly innovative and a ‘must have’ capability to forge outward to the stars. Easy to read … the general reader will find that the authors care about you understanding the implications of harnessing solar sails. … Peppered with illustrative drawings and photos, as well as a glossary of terms, this book is a valuable contribution to the field and helps keep the sunlight shining on an important enabling technology for spacefaring societies." (Coalition for Space Exploration, October, 2008)

"The book is composed of two main sections, one of which takes a look at solar sailing development from a non-technical viewpoint, while the latter section is a technical look at solar sailing mechanics and engineering. … I would recommend this book … . this book has a lot to offer to both non-technical and technical readers." (Visual Astronomy, December, 2008)

"The book is divided into four major parts; the first three are directed towards non-engineers with formulas kept to a minimum, the language here is for entry-level space readers. The last part is slightly more advanced, aimed towards students of engineering and people with a more technical mind. … The book targets a broad audience who would be interested in an introduction to a new technology … . It’s a good choice for someone looking at a new technology and offers a modest price tag." (The Space Fellowship, December, 2008)

"... this book serves as an introduction to the idea of solar sailing. It starts with a review of rocket physics... much of the writing serves to inform the reader of the impractical nature of such forms of propulsion. Hence, by contrast, this section capably serves to show the practical nature of solar sails... By using common nomenclature, the book easily conveys the necessary scientific elements to both a generalist and a space enthusiast... it provides details aimed to attract the interest of graduate and post-graduate students. And, there's lots to attract, especially as so little space validation has occurred for this technology. Whether unfurling space sails, dealing with desorption, or controlling nanobots, this book provides many challenges and lots of promise for the future but also recognizes a need for a lot of effort to reach maturity. Yet, the book shows, through references to individuals' work and the work of national space agencies, that the concept is real, practicable and potentially very rewarding..." (Mark Mortimer, Universe Today, March, 2009)

"The book’s contents include a history of space engines from rockets to sails, a description of space missions involving sails, construction details of the sailcraft, and technical aspects of space sailing. … There are … eight pages of color photos, a good seven-page glossary, and a nine-page index. This work will be useful only for readers interested in the possibility of using solar sails for spacecraft propulsion. Summing Up: Recommended. Professionals, practitioners, and informed general readers." (W. E. Howard, Choice, Vol. 46 (6), February, 2009)

"‘Solar Sails: A Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel’ takes the concept of solar travel and applies it to what could possibly be a new revolution in interplanetary travel as time goes forward. … Enhanced with indexes, glossaries, and recommendations for further reading, ‘Solar Sails’ is a strong choice for those very intrigued with astronomy." (James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review, April, 2009)

"In their latest book, Vulpetti, Johnson and Matliff argue the case for space-sailing as a viable technology for travel within the Solar System. Solar Sails – a novel approach to interplanetary travel is written with both the novice space-travel enthusiast and the more technically advanced reader in mind. The book is very attractively produced, with a generous supply of diagrams and colour/black-&-white photographs that help explain what at times can be quite difficult concepts. ... All in all Solar Sails is a handsome book and a good introduction to a technology whose time I feel is imminent – may the force be with it!" (Gerard McMahon, Astronomy and Space, June, 2009)

"The text is lucid and clearly written … . a solid and broad introduction to the principles and inherent possibilities of solar sailing. The authors do an excellent job of explaining the principles, and devote a great deal of attention to making sure the reader understands their subject. It succeeds in leading the reader through the topic on both a conceptual and physical level, and its lucid exposition communicates the promise and advantages of a system with great potential for Solar System exploration." (Anselm Aston, The Observatory, Vol. 129 (1211), August, 2009)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780387344041
  • Publisher: Springer New York
  • Publication date: 7/18/2008
  • Edition description: 2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Giovanni Vulpetti received his Ph.D. in plasma physics in 1973. Subsequently, he specialized in astrodynamics. He wrote many tens of scientific papers about astrodynamics, advanced propulsion concepts, and interstellar flight, with particular regard to matter-antimatter annihilation propulsion. In 1979, he joined Telespazio SpA (Rome, Italy). From 1995 to 2011, he has attended the committee for Lunar Base & Mars exploration of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA). He has been involving in solar-photon sailing since 1992. In the 1990s, he found out new types of sailcraft trajectories and published his theory mainly on Acta Astronautica, JPL workshops, and IAA symposia. In 1994, he was elected a Full Member of IAA. In spring 1997, he was a consultant at ESA/ESTEC about the solar-sail mission concept Daedalus. In 1979-2004, he contributed to 11 Italian and European space programs. In 2001, he was a consultant at NASA/MSFC for the NASA Interstellar Probe. In the course of two decades, he accomplished some large computer codes devoted to mission analysis & trajectory optimization via rockets and/or solar-sails. In the 90s, he was a member of the IAA committee for small satellites and, consequently, he participated in the design of Telespazio TemiSat (launched in August 1993). During 2006-2007, he joined Galilean Plus (Rome, Italy) as chief scientist, and participated in the program of the Italian Space Agency for lunar explorations. To date, he has published about 120 research papers and reports. He was a COSPAR-Associate in 2002-2007. In 2009 and 2014, he served as managing guest editor of Acta Astronautica special issues. He wrote the book Fast Solar Sailing, Astrodynamics of Special Sailcraft Trajectories, Space Technology Library 30, Springer 2012. Since spring 2013, he has been a guest lecturer on the physics of in-space propulsion at the Dept. of Astronautical Engineering of University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’.

Les Johnson is a physicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where he serves as the Senior Technical Advisor for the Advanced Concepts Office. He was a Co-Investigator on the Japanese T-Rex space tether experiment, the Principal Investigator of the NASA ProSEDS mission, and the first manager of NASA's In-Space Propulsion Technology Project. He holds three patents and was thrice awarded NASA's Exceptional Achievement Medal. He is a TEDx speaker, was the featured "interstellar explorer" in National Geographic's January 2013 issue, and a member of the Advisory Board for The Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. Les and his wife, Carol, have two children and live in Madison, Alabama (a satellite community of Huntsville - the original "Rocket City, USA!").

Greg Matloff is a leading expert in possibilities for interstellar propulsion , especially near-Sun solar-sail trajectories that might ultimately enable interstellar travel, and is an astronomy professor with the physics department of New York City College of Technology, CUNY, a consultant with NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, a Hayden Associate of the American Museum of Natural History and a Member of the International Academy of Astronautics. He co-authored with Les Johnson of NASA and C Bangs Paradise Regained (2009), Living Off the Land in Space (2007) and has authored Deep-Space Probes (edition 1: 2000 and edition 2: 2005). As well as authoring More Telescope Power (2002), Telescope Power (1993), The Urban Astronomer (1991), he co-authored with Eugene Mallove The Starflight Handbook. (1989). His papers on interstellar travel, the search for extraterrestrial artifacts, and methods of protecting Earth from asteroid impacts have been published in JBIS, Acta Astronautica, Spaceflight, ,Space Technology, Journal of Astronautical Sciences, and Mercury. His popular articles have appeared in many publications, including Analog and IEEE Spectrum. In 1998, he won a $5000 prize in the international essay contest on ETI sponsored by the National Institute for Discovery Science. . He served on a November 2007 panel organized by Seed magazine to brief Congressional staff on the possibilities of a sustainable, meaningful space program. Professor Matloff is a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society.He has chaired many technical sessions and is listed in numerous volumes of Who’s Who. In 2008, he was honored as Scholar on Campus at New York City College of Technology. In addition to his interstellar-travel research, he has contributed to SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), modeling studies of human effects on Earth’s atmosphere, interplanetary exploration concept analysis, alternative energy, in-space navigation, and the search for extrasolar planets.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements.- Preface.- Foreword. Part I: Space Engines: Past and Present.- A Historical Introduction to Space Propulsion.- The Rocket: How It Works in Space.- Rocket Problems and Limitations- Non-Rocket-In-Space Propulsion.- The Solar-Sail Reality: from the Oceans to Space.- Part II Space Mission by Sail.- Principles of Space Sailing.- What is a Space Sailcraft?-Sails vs. Rockets.- Exploring and Developing Space by Sailcraft.- Riding a Beam of Light.- Part III Construction of Sailcraft.- Designing a Solar Sail.- Building a Sailcraft.- Progress to Date.- Future Plans.- Part IV Breakthroughs in Space.- The IKAROS/JAXA Mission.- The NanoSail-D2/NASA Mission.- New Projects in Progress.- Part V Space Sailing: Some Technical Aspects.- Space Sources of Light.- Modeling Thrust via Electromagnetic Radiation Pressure and Diffraction- Sailcraft Trajectories.- Sails in Space Environment.

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