The Wind from the Sun: From Fiction to Reality

To kick off this post, we’ll start with an excerpt from The Wind from the Sun, a short story by Arthur C. Clarke:

“Hold your hands out to the sun. What do you feel? Heat, of course. But there’s pressure as well – though you’ve never noticed it, because it’s so tiny. Over the area of your hands, it only comes to about a millionth of an ounce. But out in space, even a pressure as small as that can be important – for it’s acting all the time, hour after hour, day after day. Unlike rocket fuel, it’s free and unlimited. If we want to, we can use it; we can build sails to catch the radiation blowing from the sun.”

When it comes to space-technology prediction, almost no one has ever reached the level of Arthur C. Clarke. Once again, it seems that Mr. Clarke was right.

Just next week, NASA is planning to launch a new space propulsion system named NanoSail-D. The technology consists of a 10 square-meter metallic polymer sail that uses solar pressure as a mean of propulsion for spacecrafts. Even though Mr. Clarke passed away last March, I doubt that we’ll stop hearing about him anytime soon, and I’m sure he’ll keep on amazing us again and again with his prophetic writings. Video after the jump.

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