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Sailing on Sunbeams: Solar Power to Advance Interplanetary Travel (press release)

Saturday, September 24, 2005
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com (See all articles...)
Tags: health news, Natural News, nutrition

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Imagine a vehicle that glides through space like a boat sails on water. Tacking a course from planet to planet, it burns no fuel and leaves behind no pollution. Such fantastic craft soon may be possible thanks to NASA research.

Over the next three months, NASA engineers and industry partners will test two 20-meter (66-foot) solar sail propulsion systems at the NASA Glenn Research Center's Space Power Facility at Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio. These tests are important milestones in the development of state-of-the-art propulsion technology that will use the Sun's energy for future robotic space missions.

A solar sail is an enormous structure made of lightweight reflective material 40-to-100 times thinner than a piece of writing paper. When deployed, the sail looks similar to a kite and is supported by a lightweight, rigid framework called a boom. Streams of solar energy particles, or photons, bounce off the sail propelling it through space, just like the wind pushes a sailboat across water.

On Earth, we cannot feel the gentle force of photons constantly striking us. Compared to the forces of gravity and air, it is unnoticeable. But in the vacuum of space, the continuous photon pressure provides enough thrust for a space vehicle to hover in place or change its plane of orbit, maneuvers that would require too much propellant in conventional rocket systems.

Two engineering firms, L'Garde Inc. of Tustin, Calif., and ATK Space Systems of Goleta, Calif., developed the solar sail designs. Their efforts were led by the In-space Propulsion Technology Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

Built in 1969 to test nuclear-powered spacecraft, the Space Power Facility is the world's largest vacuum chamber. The rotund structure measures 100 feet in diameter and towers at 122 feet high.

"The second largest vacuum chamber is only one-quarter the volume of this one," said Facility Manager Jerry Carek.

A steel liner and an 8-foot thick wall protect the aluminum chamber and keep air from seeping in during tests. To prevent damage, researchers must pull 160 tons of air out of the chamber at a slow, deliberate pace. The entire process, from closing the chamber walls to deploying the sails in the space environment, takes as many as 10 hours. Researchers will study each sail system for up to 30 days.

The sails eventually could lead to missions to study the sun and its heliosphere, the magnetized bubble of plasma around it. Such missions are impossible using today's space vehicles.

"This is a technology whose time has come," said Les Johnson, manager of Marshall's In-Space Propulsion Technology Office. "Studying the solar system is part of the Vision for Space Exploration, and robotic missions often come before human missions. Countries around the world are looking at solar sails, and NASA wants to make them happen."

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About the author:Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger") is a best selling author (#1 best selling science book on Amazon.com) and a globally recognized scientific researcher in clean foods. He serves as the founding editor of NaturalNews.com and the lab science director of an internationally accredited (ISO 17025) analytical laboratory known as CWC Labs. There, he was awarded a Certificate of Excellence for achieving extremely high accuracy in the analysis of toxic elements in unknown water samples using ICP-MS instrumentation. Adams is also highly proficient in running liquid chromatography, ion chromatography and mass spectrometry time-of-flight analytical instrumentation.

Adams is a person of color whose ancestors include Africans and Native American Indians. He's also of Native American heritage, which he credits as inspiring his "Health Ranger" passion for protecting life and nature against the destruction caused by chemicals, heavy metals and other forms of pollution.

Adams is the founder and publisher of the open source science journal Natural Science Journal, the author of numerous peer-reviewed science papers published by the journal, and the author of the world's first book that published ICP-MS heavy metals analysis results for foods, dietary supplements, pet food, spices and fast food. The book is entitled Food Forensics and is published by BenBella Books.

In his laboratory research, Adams has made numerous food safety breakthroughs such as revealing rice protein products imported from Asia to be contaminated with toxic heavy metals like lead, cadmium and tungsten. Adams was the first food science researcher to document high levels of tungsten in superfoods. He also discovered over 11 ppm lead in imported mangosteen powder, and led an industry-wide voluntary agreement to limit heavy metals in rice protein products.

In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Through the non-profit CWC, Adams also launched Nutrition Rescue, a program that donates essential vitamins to people in need. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.

With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource featuring over 10 million scientific studies.

Adams is well known for his incredibly popular consumer activism video blowing the lid on fake blueberries used throughout the food supply. He has also exposed "strange fibers" found in Chicken McNuggets, fake academic credentials of so-called health "gurus," dangerous "detox" products imported as battery acid and sold for oral consumption, fake acai berry scams, the California raw milk raids, the vaccine research fraud revealed by industry whistleblowers and many other topics.

Adams has also helped defend the rights of home gardeners and protect the medical freedom rights of parents. Adams is widely recognized to have made a remarkable global impact on issues like GMOs, vaccines, nutrition therapies, human consciousness.

In addition to his activism, Adams is an accomplished musician who has released over a dozen popular songs covering a variety of activism topics.

Click here to read a more detailed bio on Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, at HealthRanger.com.

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