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RE: starship-design: Interstellar Probes
Robert Forward proposed an interstellar probe based on a perforated sail
design combined with gravity assist and beamed microwave power. The payload
was to be 4 grams of intelligent microcircuitry embedded within the actual
structure of the craft - something that is not so far fetched any more - we
actually know how to do this!
Forward's calculations showed that we could accelerate starwisp (his name
for it) to 20 percent of the speed of light within only a few days. This
would deliver the probe to Alpha Centauri within about twenty years.
You must note however, that this is a "flyby" at twenty percent of the speed
of light with a very limited payload and extremely limited data return. It
may not be very useful, especially in light of what we can potentially see
from Earth orbit with advanced optics.
[mailto:email@example.com]On Behalf Of Gene Marlin
Sent: Tuesday, August 11, 1998 10:06 AM
Subject: starship-design: Interstellar Probes
Using current and near-term technology, how fast could we get a 2
kilogram probe to nearby stars such as Tau Ceti, Epsilon Eridani,
Proxima Centauri, and 61 Cygni?