The nudge delivered by a single photon is minuscule, so a solar sail
must be large in order to intercept as much light as possible.
Prof Eastwood explained: "There's talk about how we could use a solar sail
to position a satellite over the poles of the earth.
Lasers would help propel solar sails
, says Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor of national security affairs at the US Naval War College who also sits on the Breakthrough board.
The payloads on the satellites Falcon Heavy is putting into orbit include an atomic clock NASA is testing for space navigation, another testing new telescope technologies, and a solar sail
project part-funded by the Planetary Society, a non-profit organisation headed by Bill Nye, "The Science Guy" on television presentations.
As well as the satellites, the rocket is also carrying a deep space atomic clock, a solar sail
, clean and green fuel, and even human ashes.
For GOES I-M, a rotating solar array supplied power and a long solar sail
boom balanced the craft.
Several other solar sail
projects are making progress and the information from these early versions should enable the technology to become more common in the future.
is a new type of spacecraft that produces propulsion by a large area of light film that reflects solar photons, where the power source is natural solar energy, without consuming the chemical fuel.
"The Japanese have already proven that we can fly stuff with a solar sail
. In 2010, they sent up an experiment called IKAROS, Interplanetary Kite-raft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun.
performance is significantly affected by four main factors: sail surface/mass ratio; optical properties of the sail film; mechanical properties of the sail film; and sail geometry.