A concept related more closely to Nuclear Pulse Drives than to light sails, this project is currently being researched by Hbar Technologies with sponsorship by the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC), an institute of the Universities Space Research Association. The concept is being looked at as part of a proposed mission that could reach the Kuiper Belt within 10 years travel time.
A ship is constructed with a small sail coated with Uranium 235. The ship, dragged behind the sail, launches "puffs" of antimatter particles at the sail. When the antimatter hits the sail, it detonates when it comes in contact with the positive matter. The heat of this reaction also create miniature fission reactions in the U-235 coating of the sail. Both effects impell the sail forward, dragging the ship behind it for the next pulse. Using this one-two punch of matter/antimatter detonations and fission reactions, the researchers hope that the probe could reach speeds of up to 116 kilometers per second in four months.
Unlike other space sail craft, the antimatter sail probe would have a sail only 5 meters or so in diameter, as opposed to the kilometers-across sails of typical lightscale schemes. Obviously, the sail would have to be thick and ablative to handle the months-long continuous bombardment of anmtimatter, with each layer interwoven with enriched uranium.
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