Graphene Solar Photon Sails and Interstellar Arks

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G. L. Matloff (2014), JBIS, 67, pp.237-246

Refcode: 2014.67.237
Keywords: Solar Photon Sail, Graphene, Interstellar Travel, Generation Ship

A review of conceptual interstellar generation ships is followed by a presentation of optical and thermal properties of graphene and a discussion of kinematics/thermal-aspects of the solar-acceleration phase of a starship propelled by a graphene hollowbody solar-photon sail. The spacecraft departs from an initially parabolic solar orbit and the sail is oriented normal to the Sun during solar-acceleration. Perihelion is constrained to 0.1 AU because humans can tolerate ~3g for several hours without lasting effects. The 5 106 kg payload mass and 9.16 106 kg sail mass are applied as cosmic-ray shielding for the ship's 20-50 person population during the ~1,400-year cruise phase. Artificial gravity, the Coriolis Effect, closed-environment agriculture, illumination, on-board energy requirements, thermal dissipation, and hygiene/recreation are considered in a discussion of habitat design. Many concepts for mid-course trajectory correction are discussed including a new one that expels mass collected by a Cassenti toroidal ion scoop in a direction normal to the ship's trajectory. Although acceleration is affected by the unfurled sail, other options are discussed, as is the problem of protection from interstellar-dust erosion. As well as presenting the total mass budget, the conclusion reviews published variations and modifications on the generation-ship theme.


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