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Graphene and Mylar Solar Sail


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POSTS: 749

Report this Apr. 19 2010, 9:45 pm

I was reading the article about Graphene, there are five links in the Obama Plans for space exploration thread relating to Graphene, and came across a very interesting aspect of graphene. According the one of the Sub-Articles that was part of the Main Article it was stated after a test that graphene creates a super tight web that traps gas without leaking. This is because of the size of the graphene webbing being smaller than the gas molecule that when the gas molecule tries to pass through the webbing it will become trapped.

The idea that I have is why not create a soalr sail using graphene? The edges around the sail would be light gauge metal most likely titanium 1/64" in thickness. The shape of each sail would be hexagonol. The reason why it would be have a hexagonol shape is because of the graphene webbing being hexagonol in shape. This would allow an equal number of sides of the hexagonol graphene to be built into one side of the sail hexagon. The total area of the sail would be dependant upon the total weight of the vessel that it is propelling through space. The smaller weight means less surface area is needed. A larger weight means that a larger sail would be needed to trap the solar winds travelling away from the Sun at 10 km/s. This would make travelling to the Moon or Mars a very short ride for commutor type vehicles. For deeper Sol travel the sail would allow travel velocities of up to 800 km/s or around 3 million kilometers an hour. This is alot faster than normal conviental rocket motors can achieve Since there would not be any bulky engines other than the reverse acceleration engines to slow the ship down , the ship could theoretically hold maybe 20 tons of cargo plus maybe ten crew.

Sail Construction
The sail would be made of graphene hexagonol structural tubing to allow for wave distribution of unequal contact with photons with reinforced Mylar spanning each hexagonal. The photons would reflect off of the Mylar emitted where the energy transferred would would provide a "push" through space. Although the acceleration would be very slow at first, like the Ion Engine the ship would accelerate over time. To give the ship a little advantage in getting started on it's journey Vasimr thrusters would added to assist in the acceleration. Once a forward momentum had been achieved the solar sails would deploy catching the photonic solar wind carrying the ship to it's destination. Without the assistance of the Vasimr thrusters it would take roughly five years to travel to Pluto. With the assistance of the Vasimr thrusters it would take approximately 3 1/2 to 4 years to reach Pluto as the sail accelerates the ship to 14kph within 75 days with the assistance of the Vasimr thrusters and then upto 150kph within 3 years.

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