A NASA NIAC phase 2 is developing Titanium Nitride solar sails that would be able to perform an extremely close flyby of the sun to achieve speeds of 60 AU per year. This would be over 15 times faster than the Voyager (3.6 AU per year) spacecraft.
They need to make metamaterial layers to achieve reflectivity. They have made the layers in the lab with over 70% reflection of light for less than 0.7 grams per square meter.
In phase 2, they will fabricate and test the material. They will explore how to scale fabrication. They will refine the solar sail design and explore making the boom lighter.
The goal is sub-$100 million missions that could be sent out of the solar system 30 times farther than Pluto with less than 20 year travel time.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.