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bkwriter
09-23-2009, 01:35 AM
Hi, So I just came from reaserching space shuttles of the future and was reading about how we might use space mirrors to use the sun rays to make energy here on earth.

I was thinking if there were a spaceship with pannels as mirrors, wouldn't you be able to use the sun, or even stars to power the ship? Is it possable. I might do that anyways, It just sounds cool.

Also I found NASAs trying to do inflatable space ships and they also are making self-healing space shuttles. How cool is that?

Nick

Kitty Pryde
09-23-2009, 01:41 AM
Look up solar-power technology. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power I think the problem might be that you can't get enough energy that way to power a spaceship. The mirrors thing is talking about diverting EXTRA sunlight down to earth, I think. Cause we can already use the sun's rays for power.

Another related nifty thing is Solar Sails: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_sail to power spaceships in the future. Check it out.

backslashbaby
09-23-2009, 01:57 AM
That is cool stuff! I know a sweet dude who worked on the Mars stuff for NASA if you'd ever like his email addy. He can go on for ages about those things :)

Libbie
09-23-2009, 02:23 AM
There's a great book called Entering Space that you might find useful. It discusses all kinds of interesting possibilities for methods of space travel, including "space mirrors," which are usually called "solar sails."

Darzian
09-23-2009, 03:19 AM
Also I found NASAs trying to do inflatable space ships and they also are making self-healing space shuttles.

Could you expand on this if you can? I'm very interested in how a shuttle can 'heal itself.' What does it repair and how?

Darzian
09-23-2009, 03:22 AM
Practically speaking, light from distant stars is probably too low in energy to power a shuttle. But light from the sun could be used though it's far off in the future. As far as I know, solar panels aren't anywhere near efficient enough to do anything useful.

By efficiency, I mean high output without sacrificing area. By current standards, you need very large solar cells to harness enough energy to drive motors etc.

dgiharris
09-23-2009, 04:36 AM
The power that you can get from the sun in the form of 'solar power' is limited and depends on the conversion efficiency from light to electricity (in space I believe this is around 18% on earth closer to 13%) to surface area.

For purposes of being useful, a space craft covered in solar panels would be able to generate roughly enough electricity to 'power' that space craft. However, that isn't that big a deal. So you manage to power a few computers along with a couple of electrical systems.

You can generate 'much' more electricity using a nuclear reactor. Plus, this power wouldn't be dependant on line of sight sunlight.

Solar has way too many downsides for use as a powersource for a spaceship. I mean, if the spaceship went to Jupiter they'd be screwed since the sunlight radiance would be roughly 1/12th that experienced at Earth.

The main challenge with spaceships isn't electrical power generation, it is propulsion and fuel generation.

Currently, all manner of spaceship propulsion involves the use of a propelant along with leveraging the gravity of massive bodies like planets or the sun.

So if you are researching spaceships of the future, i'd focus more on the propulsion aspect than electrical power generation. Electrical power generation in space has never been a problem. A nuclear reactor would not only provide enough electricity to power a tiny city, but it would do so for a 100yrs.

Mel...

MGraybosch
09-23-2009, 04:43 AM
You might want to look into solar sails (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_sail) if you're interested in using starlight for propulsion.

bkwriter
09-23-2009, 09:26 AM
Thank you all for the websites and books and advice. I'll look into them.

bkwriter
09-23-2009, 09:30 AM
Could you expand on this if you can? I'm very interested in how a shuttle can 'heal itself.' What does it repair and how?

From what I read, if there is a crack in the shuttle, the shuttle will seal it up. But it would be cracks the human eyes can't see because those small cracks become big over time.

And yes, this would be in the future. 3020 I think?

Nivarion
09-23-2009, 09:59 AM
on earth closer to 13%) to surface area.


Solar has way too many downsides for use as a powersource for a spaceship.
They don't seem to be too bright an idea for use on earth either. (PUN)

Phaeal
09-23-2009, 04:53 PM
:Lecture: It might be possible, or passable, but not possable. :Lecture:

There's also the consideration of where your ship needs to go. Is it staying within a star system, or is it attempting extrasystematic or intersystematic travel? I imagine the dimmer spaces between stars would put a crimp on solar/stellar power.

Maybe if the ship were in a system with a much more energetic star or stars. Then, though, you have the problem of how you keep your travelers from frying in the X-rays and gamma rays. It's a big enough problem with Sol.

Anyway, as far as I can see, if you were trying to travel between stars, you either need a generation ship (one that travels below the speed of light for hundreds or thousands of years, with the crew reproducing to keep the ship manned) or a ship that travels faster than light, which requires exotic fictions like wormholes, space-time warps, jumps and the like.

bkwriter
09-24-2009, 04:13 AM
Yes, they are going to be jumping through time (More on ground then in space) but they will find a machine that can open wrom holes. I will have the ships pannels slide open so the solar mirrors can work but then they will have to find a nuclear reactor as digr said incase theres no sun. Does this sound right to you?

benbradley
09-24-2009, 04:38 AM
There's NASA's Dawn spacecraft, on its way to meet a couple of asteroids, that uses an ion engine (low thrust and low power, but runs a long time) powered by electricity generated by sunlight shining on solar panels:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawn_%28spacecraft%29
It can't run indefinitely on sunlight, as the engine uses xenon gas as a propellant, and once it runs out the engine will no longer provide thrust.

Kitty Pryde
09-24-2009, 04:42 AM
Yes, they are going to be jumping through time (More on ground then in space) but they will find a machine that can open wrom holes. I will have the ships pannels slide open so the solar mirrors can work but then they will have to find a nuclear reactor as digr said incase theres no sun. Does this sound right to you?

I think you don't quite grasp the concept of solar power. There are solar panels, big black thingies which you see on the roofs of buildings in some places, which convert light from the sun into electricity to power stuff. IF you put a big mirror up in space to reflect a bunch of extra sunlight down to solar panels on earth, you can get EXTRA solar energy. You can't really use mirrors on a space ship, or, not to any significant extent I would think. You could put solar panels on a spaceship, but as it was pointed out, why bother when a nuclear reactor works way better?

If you want a neat-o sci-fi nuclear reactor, make it a FUSION reactor and not a FISSION reactor. We haven't yet invented fusion reactors that work yet, but when we do they will be able to produce way more energy.

KTC
09-24-2009, 04:43 AM
There is no A is possible.

Izz
09-24-2009, 04:44 AM
Yep, definitely cool stuff.

Kitty Pryde
09-24-2009, 04:46 AM
There is no A is possible.

There is no S in in.


Sorry, I couldn't help myself! :D

KTC
09-24-2009, 04:50 AM
There is no S in in.


Sorry, I couldn't help myself! :D

two for doin' it.

MacAllister
09-24-2009, 04:59 AM
Heh. Been done. Several times (http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2005/06/hey-there-solar-sailor/), in fact.