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RE: starship-design: Interstellar Probes
On Tue, 11 Aug 1998, L. Parker wrote:
> 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.
Excuse my Ignorance but wouldn't it be possible to Use the target Star's
Gravity to "swing" the probe around and into a return orbit to Earth (or
at least close enough to our solar system to be recovered in some way.)