Setting Sail For The Sun

The Sunjammer, with its wings unfurled.
The Sunjammer, with its wings unfurled.

In 1964, Arthur C. Clarke published a science-fiction short story titled, “Sunjammer,” which featured sun-yachts, powered only by the Sun.

That’s about to change into a science fact.

In the last quarter of 2014, NASA will send a vast, gossamer, sail-like craft, on a 1.9-million-mile voyage toward the Sun to test its newest propulsion technology: solar sails.

The Sunjammer is a propellant-free vehicle that will “maneuver solely by riding the photonic pressure of the Sun.” Its mission is to send from deep space, the earliest ever warning signals of impending solar storms.

Going along for the ride will be small samples of the remains of the man who gave the project its name, and three “Star Trek” celebs: its creator, Gene Roddenberry; his wife; and James Doohan (who played the testy chief engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott.)

What’s more? The flight will let anyone wanting to establish an off-planetary existence to send their names with it.



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