An innovative method of propulsion for interstellar space probes (although not as advanced as warp drive or nuclear fusion rockets)
Scientist Invents New ‘Light Sail’ That Could Speed-Up Space Travel, Help Reach Closest Star to Sun
by Tim Korso | Sputnik News
“Light sail” technology was presented back in 2016 by late Professor Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, who saw it as a way to reach the nearest solar system to Earth – Proxima Centauri – in a feasible amount of time, while removing the need to stock up on tons of fuel for new spacecraft.
Grover Swartzlander from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York has come up with a new “light sail” design for the Breakthrough Starshot project, which is dedicated to building a spacecraft able to “sail” through space to distant solar systems using the power of solar rays or Earth-based lasers. His findings were described by the Physics.org website.
Swartzlander’s invention potentially solves one of the key issues that would face spacecraft designed to be propelled by powerful lasers, namely that they could veer off a laser ray’s trajectory and thereby lose propulsion. The scientist’s new sail is designed in such a way that it deflects an incoming laser beam at an angle, thus creating a sideways force that helps the spacecraft get back on course and stay aligned with the laser beam.