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Solar Sails: A Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel Hardcover – August 22, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0387344041 ISBN-10: 0387344047 Edition: 2008th

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Copernicus; 2008 edition (August 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0387344047
  • ISBN-13: 978-0387344041
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #392,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

From the reviews:

"Conceptually simple and romantic, solar sailing is an enchanting technological solution for space exploration. … Solar Sails: A Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel is the latest book to explore this topic … . Aimed at undergraduates, the book convincingly captures the history of ideas about solar sails, their current state of play and their future promise. … Suitable for aerospace students and keen enthusiasts alike, this book may one day inspire some of them to build a solar-sail-powered vessel." (Stuart Clark, Nature, Vol. 452, April, 2008)

"You would … find a more knowledgable team to write a book titled Solar Sails: A Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel (Copernicus, 2008), and it’s a pleasure to add that despite the sub-title, questions of interstellar significance receive solid treatment. … a title that needs to be on your shelf if you’re seriously interested in the next step as we move beyond rocketry." (Centauri Dreams, September, 2008)

"Solar sails have for decades promised to revolutionize in-space transportation. … In Solar Sails, Giovanni Vulpetti, Les Johnson, and Gregory L. Matloff try to serve both nontechnical and technical audiences by dividing the book into four parts. … The result is a book that provides does provide a comprehensive yet readable overview of how solar sails work and how they could be used in the near future." (Jeff Foust, The Space Review, October, 2008)

"This is a top-notch treatment of a propulsion concept that’s clearly innovative and a ‘must have’ capability to forge outward to the stars. Easy to read … the general reader will find that the authors care about you understanding the implications of harnessing solar sails. … Peppered with illustrative drawings and photos, as well as a glossary of terms, this book is a valuable contribution to the field and helps keep the sunlight shining on an important enabling technology for spacefaring societies." (Coalition for Space Exploration, October, 2008)

"The book is composed of two main sections, one of which takes a look at solar sailing development from a non-technical viewpoint, while the latter section is a technical look at solar sailing mechanics and engineering. … I would recommend this book … . this book has a lot to offer to both non-technical and technical readers." (Visual Astronomy, December, 2008)

"The book is divided into four major parts; the first three are directed towards non-engineers with formulas kept to a minimum, the language here is for entry-level space readers. The last part is slightly more advanced, aimed towards students of engineering and people with a more technical mind. … The book targets a broad audience who would be interested in an introduction to a new technology … . It’s a good choice for someone looking at a new technology and offers a modest price tag." (The Space Fellowship, December, 2008)

"... this book serves as an introduction to the idea of solar sailing. It starts with a review of rocket physics... much of the writing serves to inform the reader of the impractical nature of such forms of propulsion. Hence, by contrast, this section capably serves to show the practical nature of solar sails... By using common nomenclature, the book easily conveys the necessary scientific elements to both a generalist and a space enthusiast... it provides details aimed to attract the interest of graduate and post-graduate students. And, there's lots to attract, especially as so little space validation has occurred for this technology. Whether unfurling space sails, dealing with desorption, or controlling nanobots, this book provides many challenges and lots of promise for the future but also recognizes a need for a lot of effort to reach maturity. Yet, the book shows, through references to individuals' work and the work of national space agencies, that the concept is real, practicable and potentially very rewarding..." (Mark Mortimer, Universe Today, March, 2009)

"The book’s contents include a history of space engines from rockets to sails, a description of space missions involving sails, construction details of the sailcraft, and technical aspects of space sailing. … There are … eight pages of color photos, a good seven-page glossary, and a nine-page index. This work will be useful only for readers interested in the possibility of using solar sails for spacecraft propulsion. Summing Up: Recommended. Professionals, practitioners, and informed general readers." (W. E. Howard, Choice, Vol. 46 (6), February, 2009)

"‘Solar Sails: A Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel’ takes the concept of solar travel and applies it to what could possibly be a new revolution in interplanetary travel as time goes forward. … Enhanced with indexes, glossaries, and recommendations for further reading, ‘Solar Sails’ is a strong choice for those very intrigued with astronomy." (James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review, April, 2009)

"In their latest book, Vulpetti, Johnson and Matliff argue the case for space-sailing as a viable technology for travel within the Solar System. Solar Sails – a novel approach to interplanetary travel is written with both the novice space-travel enthusiast and the more technically advanced reader in mind. The book is very attractively produced, with a generous supply of diagrams and colour/black-&-white photographs that help explain what at times can be quite difficult concepts. ... All in all Solar Sails is a handsome book and a good introduction to a technology whose time I feel is imminent – may the force be with it!" (Gerard McMahon, Astronomy and Space, June, 2009)

"The text is lucid and clearly written … . a solid and broad introduction to the principles and inherent possibilities of solar sailing. The authors do an excellent job of explaining the principles, and devote a great deal of attention to making sure the reader understands their subject. It succeeds in leading the reader through the topic on both a conceptual and physical level, and its lucid exposition communicates the promise and advantages of a system with great potential for Solar System exploration." (Anselm Aston, The Observatory, Vol. 129 (1211), August, 2009)


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Paul A. Gilster on September 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a review of Solar Sails: A Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel, that I have published on my Centauri Dreams weblog. The text follows:

The vast laser-driven sails envisioned by Robert Forward have always fired my imagination. Hundreds of kilometers in diameter, they would rely upon a gigantic Fresnel lens in the outer Solar System to keep the critical laser beam tightly collimated over interstellar distances. Forward conceived of mission designs to stars as far away as Epsilon Eridani, journeys that could be achieved within a human lifetime. He even provided return capability through the use of a multi-part sail. You can read a fictional treatment of this in his novel Rocheworld.

But how do we get from here to there? As of today, we're close enough to having an operational space sail that if we can talk SpaceX into lofting the NanoSail-D duplicate, we could be shaking out our first space sail within months. Assuming we do go operational before too many months (or years!) pass, the question then becomes, what kind of missions are possible between the laser-beamed lightsail of science fictional imagining and the practical workhorse sail that may well open up a space-based infrastructure for our use.

Such questions point to the pleasures of reading a new book on solar sails by three leading experts. Gregory Matloff has been examining the concept for the past thirty years, with seminal papers in the 1980s and continuing work on near-term concepts. His regular consulting at Marshall Space Flight Center keeps him in touch with co-author Les Johnson, NASA's deputy manager of the Advanced Concepts office at Huntsville.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alex Tolley on September 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book on the technology of solar sails and the first I've read that goes into so much detail. Most of the book explains why various types of rocket technology are inadequate for traversing deep space and why solar sails fill the requirements. The details on construction of solar sails are excellent. Finally there are some concluding chapters that delve into the math of sailcraft propulsion.

It's hard to find any fault with this book. To me the authors are a bit too dismissive of rockets and there is no mention of VASIMIR rockets. I would have liked some more details on actual mission profiles and payloads, but I appreciate that would have been too speculative.

For anyone interested in this form of propulsion that has been waiting in the wings for decades, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on January 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Wind has been an abundant resource which allowed man to travel great distances before electricity. Could wind also be the thing that allows man to travel great distances through space? "Solar Sails: A Novel Approach to Interplanetary Travel" takes the concept of solar travel and applies it to what could possibly be a new revolution in interplanetary travel as time goes forward. Claiming them as an absolute necessity given the limits of current fossil fuels in space travel, it details the technology and presents some very intriguing ideas. Enhanced with indexes, glossaries, and recommendations for further reading, "Solar Sails" is a strong choice for those very intrigued with astronomy.
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