For everything that is good out there, there’s always someone to naysay it. So how to respond when the haters come for our solar sails? With poetry, friends, only poetry.
2,465. That’s the number of satellites that are whipping gracefully around the Earth as you read this.
Stephen Baxter's new novel Proxima includes a sentient solar sail, but this unique type of spacecraft has a long history in science fiction — and an even longer one in science. Though the idea is 400 years old, it might still become the kind of vessel that we eventually ride to the stars.
Solar sails are all about "propellantless" propulsion — using photons from the Sun (as opposed to an onboard fuel supply) to push a spacecraft through space. Building on the lessons learned from smaller solar sail missions, like NASA's NanoSail-D and JAXA's IKAROS, NASA is gearing up to to launch the biggest solar…