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Magnetic Sail to Act as Spacecraft Braking System

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The Breakthrough Starshot program plans to send tiny probes to Alpha Centauri, and a German physicist...
The Breakthrough Starshot program plans to send tiny probes to Alpha Centauri, and a German physicist has now outlined a possible braking system called a magnetic sail(Credit:Breakthrough Initiatives)

Our nearest stellar neighbor, Alpha Centauri, is just four light-years from Earth, and while that’s pretty close in the grand scheme of things, we can’t just pop over to borrow some milk.With our current technology, the journey would take tens of thousands of years, but there are plans for tiny unmanned probes that could trek there in as little as 20 years.

Now, a German theoretical physicist has detailed a method to use magnetic sails as a braking system, to slow craft down to a cruising speed once they get there.

Last year, some ambitious space travel plans were laid out as part of Breakthrough Starshot, a program headed up by iconic physicist Stephen Hawking, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and entrepreneur Yuri Milner. The idea was to accelerate small spacecraft – roughly the size of a CubeSat – using a laser propulsion system like a light sail, and send them off towards Alpha Centauri.

This technique has the potential to get nano-spacecraft up to about 20 percent of the speed of light, allowing it to trek to the Alpha Centauri star system in mere decades rather than millennia. But acceleration is only half the equation: with no braking systems it’ll be a flying visit, as the spacecraft zips through without being able to take in many of the sights.

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About the Common Constitutionalist

Brent, aka The Common Constitutionalist, is a Constitutional Conservative, and advocates for first principles, founders original intent and enemy of progressives. He is former Navy, Martial Arts expert. As well as publisher of the Common Constitutionalist blog, he also is a contributing writer for Political Outcast, Godfather Politics, Minute Men News (Liberty Alliance), Freedom Outpost, the Daily Caller, Vision To America and Free Republic. He also writes an exclusive weekly column for World Net Daily (WND).

One comment on “Magnetic Sail to Act as Spacecraft Braking System

  1. Pingback: Magnetic Sail to Act as Spacecraft Braking System – USSA News | The Tea Party's Front Page

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