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Plasma Magnet Sails
The idea isn't particularly new to OA, but here are some details.

I first came across this in "Next Big Future". I guess I should read "Centauri Dreams" more often...

The Plasma Magnet Drive: A Simple, Cheap Drive for the Solar System and Beyond
by Paul Gilster (article by Alex Tolley; presentation by Jeff Greason) on December 29, 2017

Missions Enabled by Plasma Magnet Sails
Plenary talk by Jeff Greason, Board Chairman, Tau Zero Foundation, Oct. 5, 2017, Huntsville, AL
Nice to see Alex using one of my images as illustration. Of course I haven't done any maths to support this design, but hopefully it is not too unphysical. I must talk to Alex a bit more at some point.

As I understand it, a particle beam colliding with a plasma sail should replenish the cloud as well as transferring momentum to the sail, making the system self-perpetuating; so long as the cloud doesn't get too energetic or massive, the system should continue to work with no extra input from the spacecraft.
Greason proposes using it with the solar wind, so it could be applied in the very near future without needing an interplanetary mesh of particle beams.
Using solar wind, the acceleration would be very slow - but assuming some lightweight but sophisticated payloads, plasma sails could spread human technology to every corner of the Solar System.
I remember reading about the Mini-Magnetosphere concept some years ago, but then remember reading something about it not panning out, although whether that was due to experimental or theoretical/mathematical reasons, I don't remember.

Based on a quick skim through the article, it appears that this version of the tech has some experimental backing, which is rather coolSmile

Also based on reading down the article, it looks like some related variations of the tech could allow such things as a 'virtual heat shield' for aerobraking or even re-entry and landing - which is definitely something I think we should consider for OABig Grin

The latter part of the article also talks about a more advanced design that might be able to tack against the solar wind and so be able to travel in toward the sun as well as away.

Getting back to the sail itself, in the immediate term we could add this sort of thing into the early part of the timeline, perhaps in connection with the Project Thistledown mentioned in the tech timeline (sending space probes all over the system launched by mag-beam) or as some kind of earlier mission that predated Thistledown. We might also postulate sails of this sort used for the Mars mission that delivered the first mag-beam station to that planet or the like.

I don't think these would be sufficiently robust to handle a full on boostbeam, but they might also be a potential alternative to the electric sail included in the mining ship design currently in development on the forum.

Finally, and coming at this from an editorial direction, we have an increasing number of mentions of various forms of magnetic sail propulsion. Perhaps we should either expand the existing Drive Sails page or create a new article to offer an overview of all of them.

I should also look at putting together an article on magbeam propulsion since we mention it in the timeline but don't really explain it. Perhaps after I get the S2 article finalized, since I think it is close to being done.



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