Sailing on Light

Solar sails offer the opportunity to travel between planets with no consumables, extending mission life and possibly opening new destinations. However, the technology is still nascent. A challenge that would unlock new avenues of exploration while being achievable in the next decade:

Using only a Solar sail for propulsion, navigate a spacecraft from low Earth orbit to low lunar orbit.

This challenge would require advances in material science, navigation, and spacecraft autonomy. If successful, these technologies could dramatically reduce costs to explore our Solar system, opening up other destinations the way cubesats have opened up LEO-related investigations.

Welcome @jmasiero! Thanks so much for posting about this very interesting area for breakthroughs. Although I know very little about the topic, at a cursory glance it appears that a future XPRIZE on solar sailing could certainly build upon the learnings from LightSail2 and Near-Earth Asteroid Scout

Would love to hear feedback from others in the Community about the idea and in particular the proposed target by @jmasiero: “navigate a spacecraft from low Earth orbit to low lunar orbit.

Hi @Jekan, @avi_loeb, @easphaug, @Spacearch, @spacecase33 - Do you have any inputs to share on this topic?

@jmasiero -
I like it in general, but am concerned that the impact on our lives in the present will be negligible. I quote our founder’s wise words that we want to achieve breakthroughs that can have a positive impact on the lives of 1 billion people.

Do you think we could somehow fit this topic to help people in the present?