Jun 11 2015

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And after all the kerfluffle about LightSail, it may be obsolete

Graphene sponge can absorb light and emit energetic electrons for breakthrough solar sail propulsion. Turns out that is you excite a graphene sponge with the right photons, it produces thrust much higher than just a solar sail using the Sun’s rays. Still not nearly as much as a chemical rocket, but still…

While the propulsion energy/force is still smaller compared with conventional chemical rockets, it is already several orders larger than that from light pressure. Assuming the area of a typical solar-cell panel structure on the satellite is ~50 m2 and because a laser-graphene sponge-based rocket does not need other moving parts, with a payload of 500 kg, the acceleration rate would be 0.09 meter per sec squared . Since the density of graphene sponge is very low and no other onboard propellant is needed (the required vacuum and light are naturally available in space), the theoretical specific impulse of our laser propulsion could be much higher

That’s *way* higher than LightSail A could possibly achieve. This development is definitely worth watching.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2015/06/11/and-after-all-the-kerfluffle-about-lightsail-it-may-be-obsolete/

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