Getting to the Gravitational Lens in 8.5 to 15 Years

Extreme metamaterial ceramic solar sails survive a close pass of our sun to reach speeds of 60-70AU per year which is over 0.1% of light speed. Theis propel low mass spacecraft using a dive to extreme proximity to the sun (just 2-5 solar radii). This velocity is 20 times more than Voyager 1. The technology enables reaching Jupiter in 5 months, Neptune in 10, surpassing Voyager 1 in 2.5 years and getting to the solar gravity lens location in just 8.5 years.

Metal sails that can survive a 5 solar radii pass of the sun would be able to go at 40AU per year. These systems could reach the solar gravity lens (600 AU) in about 15 years. Two-meter telescopes at the gravitational lens would be able to image megapixel resolution images of exoplanets.

Artur Davoyan works with Turyshev. Turyshev has the NIAC study on gravitational lens missions. Turyshev has proposed launching telescopes to the solar gravitational lens starting in 2028. If the materials that are can handle more heat and do not absorb as much heat can be used for solar sails, then they could reach the lens in 2037-2043.

Roccor LLC has a grant to develop 1000 to 10,000 square meter solar sails. They are developing composite trussed trac (T-Trac) boom systems. The original Trac will be flight validated on the upcoming near earth asteroid scout mission. T-TRAC has a triangular cross-section. Roccor holds an exclusive license for the Flexible Unfurlable and Refurlable Lightweight (FURL) solar sail developed and tested by the Air Force Research Laboratory.

16 thoughts on “Getting to the Gravitational Lens in 8.5 to 15 Years”

  1. Forget the sail. Launch Hubble II/TAU nuclear electric missions opposite the sun from the galactic core—itself a lens

  2. If you want to fly on charged solar particles, you dont need a sail, a wire is enough.
    Also if you put on a charge on the wire, its field becomes stronger and thus its interaction with the solar wind of charged particles becomes stronger. A wire also takes up less heat, and its lighter as well.
    If one really wants to play it smart one doesnt need rocket exhaust at all to move in space, all you need to create is the effect of a linear motor against the charged galactic medium. In simple create a magnetic linear wave over a series of layers. Like how a particle accelerator works. .. anyway greetings to John Titor, lets catch up some day.

  3. Getting there isn’t enough, the telescope has to stop or at least speed down for any meaningful mission. Perhaps even manuever around. So a sail alone won’t cut it. Some sort of propulsion nuclear/ion/plasma is needed, so it might as well be used to accelerate the craft there in the first place.

  4. Not sure if this is the best use of money at this point in time. There are limitations with SGL telescopes and tremendous technical challenges. It needs an ‘astronomical’ level of accuracy and a tremendous amount of signals processing, and can only be pointed in one specific direction. If you’re off by even the tiniest bit, you see nothing. And you’re trying to find a moving target. And for what payoff? A low-res image of what could easily be a barren Mercury-like rock that is unreachable. Gotta walk before we can run. I’d rather put that money into building mining facilities on the moon or Mars, or exploring Titan, or other more-reachable goals.

  5. Less of a stretch would be to use the sail as the focusing dish for your radio communication back to Planet Dirt.

  6. I imagine it is because it would be hard to allow the sail to be bombarded with solar radiation from a few solar radii distance and then have it arrive at the focal line years later without enough damage that it could still be used as a focusing mirror.

    These difficulties might be surmountable, though, so it might be a good idea to suggest this to Dr Davoyan.

  7. if we have working solar sails it means we could have all kinds of missions to asteroids, planets and other interesting places that are much closer. If combined with ion engines, a solar sail missions can visit every moon and major rock in our solar system , especially LEO delivery becomes cheaper thanks to spaceX. Once we have missions all over the places, there will be a few telescopes and only then we will be able to to talk about gravitational lensing missions seriously. For now it is

  8. With working fusion rocket, you could get there very fast. Exact position wouldn’t be a problem. Same telescope could be repositioned and reused. First step could be to invest more than pennies in private fusion.

  9. How many stores could a given telescope image? How long would such a telescope be in the correct location to utilize the gravitational lens?

  10. It would be probably be better if we would invest significantly in private fusion development.  Efficient working fusion reactors will solve so many problems. Fusion rockets would cut travel time substantially.

  11. My complaint is that this is like planning a mission based on hypersonic scramjets while the Wright Brothers are doing glider tests. We’re barely beginning to try out solar sails, and you’re going to plan a space mission around a sail that might be possible if you push materials science to its limits? There are too many chances for things to come up during the development that cause the schedule to slip drastically, or just turn out to be impossible.

    I’d rather we concentrated on some propulsion mechanism that’s better understood, and likely to be brought to functionality quicker. Like my favorite, fission fragment rockets. We could prototype one of THOSE this year, if we got the go ahead.

    (As an aside, don’t know if you saw my comment: The paper I linked to had a typo, the required delta V was 0.2%C, not 2%C.)

    Then, sure, continue developing solar sails, while the first FOCAL mission is on its way, using a propulsion system that doubles as a powerful nuclear reactor so there’s no shortage of power for communicating with home.

  12. I think we have proven that we (as a civilisation) have the capacity to run space missions over this sort of time period.
    Voyager space mission was designed to run for 12 years, though it has continued for another 31 years since then.

    More importantly, solar sails have potential to be a very useful tech, and this project looks like a cheap (by space project standards) way to build that tech into functional systems while developing absolutely spectacular telescopic abilities.

    And I would think that the sort of telescopic ability they are talking about would lead to all sorts of discoveries, with who knows what practical returns. It is a very powerful tool, and we know that tools end up having applications way beyond their initial application.

  13. The problem is, getting there in 8.5-15 years after 20-30 years of research is still pretty slow from our perspective.

    Solar sails are a neat concept, but there are enough issues that need to be resolved for this sort of mission to work, that we should probably be pursuing some other option with less technological uncertainty.

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