Originally Posted by Tippy
So I guess people are really dedicated to solar sails now as the best method of creating the fastest ships possible. There was that whole hub-bub about Ion Drives but nothing practical has been built with that in mind...yet
Blame a lack of funding if anything.
Originally Posted by Blameless
5.6% of lightspeed would be fast enough to get a probe to the nearest star in less than a century. Pretty impressive.
Ion drives were first demonstrated in the early 1960s and have been routinely used on actual spacecraft for decades.
You spelled 1916 wrong. Ion drives are older than most think. The theory of light pressure is really old and the idea of solar sails were around in the late 19th century but solar sails themselves actually didn't come into being until the 1970's I think so maybe you get the two mixed up.
Originally Posted by Liranan
None of this technology will get us anywhere. 5.6% Of speed of light is still years to Mars, let alone the nearest stars. Work on warp drives and wormholes needs to be sped up, but I suppose self annihilation is a far more worthy cause.
lol. The VX-200 (built and tested on Earth) is capable of a top speed of over 6 times that of the Space Shuttle (7.77 km/s) in orbit thanks to exhaust gas at 50 km/s. 5.6% of light speed is over 335 times faster than the VX-200 engine /at 16,788 km/s or over 2,152 times faster than the Space Shuttle. The difference is that the Space Shuttle hits its top speed quicker.
VASIMR is essentially limited by power sources at the moment while solar sails are still unproven. There are also other ion thrusters like the NEXT using xenon but it seems like VASIMR is the furthest along as well as the most applicable to manned transport and hauling.