What The Denver Balloon Boy…

was really practising for

About a year from now, if all goes well, a box about the size of a loaf of bread will pop out of a rocket some 500 miles above the Earth. There in the vacuum it will unfurl four triangular sails as shiny as moonlight and only barely more substantial. Then it will slowly rise on a sunbeam and move across the stars.

LightSail-1, as it is dubbed, will not make it to Neverland. At best the device will sail a few hours and gain a few miles in altitude. But those hours will mark a milestone for a dream that is almost as old as the rocket age itself, and as romantic: to navigate the cosmos on winds of starlight the way sailors for thousands of years have navigated the ocean on the winds of the Earth.

How very cool. This idea played a key part in one of my favorite science fiction novels growing up: “The Mote In God’s Eye”.

Good stuff.

(h/t Insta)

2 Responses to “What The Denver Balloon Boy…”

  1. mojo says:

    Re: “Mote”

    I love it when they explain engineering.

    “If the material was stronger, they would make it thinner and get more area for the same weight. So it will be just strong enough…”

  2. JeffS says:

    The “Mote” was great!

    Lightsails are cool as well!

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