Artwork of laser light-sail starship

Artwork of laser light-sail starship

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This image is part of the feature Designing A Starship

Credit: JULIAN BAUM/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Laser Light-sail starship. Artist's impression of a space vehicle designed to travel to other star systems. This concept is a 1000-km diameter 'light sail'. A powerful laser in orbit around Earth would beam light at the sail. The photon pressure of the laser hitting the sail would accelerate it to about 50% of light speed. About 0.4 light years from its objective, the centre section of the sail would separate and turn around (as seen here). The laser light then would reflect from the main sail to the centre sail, thus slowing down the centre section. The laser power needed is about 43,000 terawatts, about 40,000 times the total energy production of Earth today.

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Keywords: artwork, exploration, future, galaxy, illustration, interstellar travel, light sail, light sail starship, manned spaceflight, space art, spaceship, starship

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