Science and Exploration

Relativistic Spacecraft Propelled by Directed Energy

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
October 30, 2017
Filed under , ,
Relativistic Spacecraft Propelled by Directed Energy
Breakthrough Starshot
Breakthrough Starshot

Achieving relativistic flight to enable extrasolar exploration is one of the dreams of humanity and the long term goal of our NASA Starlight program.
We derive a fully relativistic solution for the motion of a spacecraft propelled by radiation pressure from a directed energy system. Depending on the system parameters, low mass spacecraft can achieve relativistic speeds; thereby enabling interstellar exploration. The diffraction of the directed energy system plays an important role and limits the maximum speed of the spacecraft.

We consider ‘photon recycling’ as a possible method to achieving higher speeds. We also discuss recent claims that our previous work on this topic is incorrect and show that these claims arise from an improper treatment of causality.

Neeraj Kulkarni, Philip Lubin, Qicheng Zhang
(Submitted on 30 Oct 2017)

Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
Cite as: arXiv:1710.10732 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:1710.10732v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)
Submission history
From: Neeraj Kularni
[v1] Mon, 30 Oct 2017 00:53:41 GMT (844kb,D)

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