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Old January 19 2011, 11:22 PM   #43
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Re: Some science fiction "firsts"

Solar sailer(s): The fact that electromagnetic radiation produces pressure was discovered in 1871. In 1924, Friedrich Zander proposed solar sails as a means of propelling a spacecraft.

Likely the earliest story in sci-fi involving this method of propulsion was in 1960's: "The Lady Who Sailed the Soul", by Cordwainer Smith. In 1964, Arthur C. Clarke speculated about a "solar yacht race" in "Sunjammer".

In visual fiction, Tron(1982) used a "solar sailing simulation", though it was not actually a physical spacecraft. The first appearance of a physical solar sailer was in May of 1995 on STDS9's "Explorers", followed closely by Outer Limits in July, 1995 with "The Message".

Ikaros, the first actual non-experimental solar sail mission ever was launched in 2010 by the Japanese space agency, followed by the Nanosail-D2 by NASA in Nov, 2010.

It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. Carl Sagan
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