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English: Engineers at Marshall Space Flight Center's (MSFC) Interstellar Propulsion Research department are proposing different solutions to combustion propellants for future space travel. One alternative being tested is the solar sail. The idea is, once deployed, the sail will allow solar winds to propel a spacecraft away from Earth and towards its destination. This would allow a spacecraft to travel indefinitely without the need to refuel during its long journey. Thin reflective sails could be propelled through space by sunlight, microwave beams, or laser beams, just as the wind pushes sailboats on Earth. The sail will be the largest spacecraft ever built, spanning 440 yards, twice the diameter of the Louisiana Super Dome. Construction materials are being tested in a simulated space environment, where they are exposed to harsh conditions to test their performance and durability in extremely hot and cold temperatures. A leading candidate for the construction material is a carbon fiber material whose density is less than 1/10 ounce per square yard, the equivalent of flattening one raisin to the point that it covers a square yard. In space, the material would unfurl like a fan when it is deployed from an expendable rocket. This photo shows Les Johnson, manager of MSFC's Interstellar Propulsion Research Center holding the rigid, lightweight carbon fiber. An artist's concept of the sail is on the right. Mankind's first venture outside of our solar system is proposed for launch in a 2010 timeframe. An interstellar probe, powered by the fastest spacecraft ever flown, will zoom toward the stars at 58 miles per second. It will cover the distance from New York to Los Angeles in less than a minute and will travel over 23 billion miles beyond the edge of the solar system.
|Date||9 September 2002|
|Author||NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center|
(Reusing this file)
|This image or video was catalogued by Marshall Space Flight Center of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) under Photo ID: MSFC-0002024.
This tag does not indicate the copyright status or the source of the attached work. A normal copyright tag and a source are still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.
|This file is in the public domain because it was created by NASA. NASA copyright policy states that "NASA material is not protected by copyright unless noted". (See Template:PD-USGov, NASA copyright policy page or JPL Image Use Policy.)
|Orientation of image||1|
|Image resolution in width direction||300/1|
|Image resolution in height direction||300/1|
|Unit of X and Y resolution||2|
|Color space information||65535|
|Exif image width||3000|
|Exif image length||2171|
|Software used||Adobe Photoshop 7.0|
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