Lightsail | Structure

Building a skeleton structure that will be able to hold the sail in shape during launch, be resilient to the interaction with the interstellar medium and potentially be able to modify the shape of the sail, is a major challenge given the gram-scale mass constraint. There are a number of composite graphene-based materials that are being considered. These materials change their length depending on the voltage applied across them. There are also various other materials that could be engineered to meet mission requirements. This challenge is the primary argument for ‘replacing structure with spin’: it has already ben demonstrated that centripetal acceleration of tiny tip masses can pull the sail flat.

Oct 29, 2018 22:28 Breakthrough Initiatives Posted on: Breakthrough Initiatives

Dear Alejandro,

Thank you for your creative an novel ideas for light sail geometries. We certainly appreciate new approaches for this important problem. We have just completed selection of a number of research teams to look at the light sail problems. And with your permission we will be happy to have them consider your ideas. This may take some time as we have just begun our study process.

Once again, thank you for your input.

Kind Regards,

S. Pete Worden, Executive Director, Breakthrough StarShot

Nov 08, 2019 14:17 Alejandro Baranek Posted on: Breakthrough Initiatives

Dear Pete:

I'm sorry but didn't saw this message until these days. You have my permission to consider my ideas. Please contact me if you are interested, as the method isn't published yet, we have to think in a collaboration schema, because is a powerful tool and produces useful structures.

Until the method will be published, I can share you different structures families with different shapes with structural integrity.

If you contact me by private I can share you more material (Images, videos, prototypes).

Best, Ale.

May 07, 2020 04:09 Dmitry Novoseltsev Posted on: Breakthrough Initiatives

Please consider supporting a small project to development a family of engines in the nearest future ( for Femto-class spacecrafts for pre-relativistic speeds using related technical solutions.
Currently, work is underway to organize a profile startup D-Start:
The proposed engines can be used for experimental development of certain elements of the Breakthrough Starshot technology, and in the "solar petard" engin version - also for experimental study of the movement of high-speed ultralight spacecrafts in the direction of the periphery of the Solar system and beyond.
Additional information in the group
All interested parties are kindly asked to contact the author:
Questions about specific experiments are open for discussion and planning.
Assistance in attracting investment or grants is welcome.

May 21, 2020 15:36 Breakthrough Initiatives Posted on: Breakthrough Initiatives

Dear Dr. Novoseltesev,

Thank you for you bringing this to our attention. Our team and Advisory Committee pays close attention to developments in propulsion and other technologies relevant to Starshot. While we are not currently at a stage to support the particular work you are doing, I will follow your project with great interest. Our next request for proposals will be for the Starshot Interstellar Communications Challenge which focusses on developing novel communications systems for a 1g spacecraft 4.2 LY from Earth. If this topic is of interest to you, please keep feel free to summit a proposal when the RFP is announced – likely in Q3 2020. 

Very respectfully, 

Pete Klupar
Chief Engineer, Breakthrough Initiatives

Aug 05, 2021 02:13 Andrew Ecker Posted on: Breakthrough Initiatives


Your spacecrafts will have to get through the asteroid belt, Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud during the trip undamaged. I guess they can do this since they are small, but I am wondering how you came up with the number 1000 for the number of spacecrafts and is there a way to estimate how many spacecrafts will survive the trip?

Thanks, Andrew

Sep 08, 2021 14:45 Breakthrough Initiatives Posted on: Breakthrough Initiatives

Dear Andrew,

The gas and dust density is very low in the Solar system in interstellar space. For a detailed quantitative discussion on the damage expected during the journey of the Starshot spacecraft see the following four scientific papers:

The bottom line is that with proper design the spacecraft can survive the journey to the nearest star system. The number of crafts used will depend on other considerations, such as the scientific objectives of the missions.

- Avi Loeb, Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science
Harvard University

Comments: 46


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