antimatter-driven sail

antimatter-driven sail

Antimatter-driven sail for a Kuiper-belt mission. Art: Hbar Technologies, LLC/Elizabeth Lagana

An antimatter-driven sail is a type of space sail in which the products of a matter-antimatter reaction are allowed to strike the inside surface of the sail and thus provide thrust. Evaluation of such a system has been carried out by Hbar Technologies with sponsorship by the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC), an institute of the Universities Space Research Association. The ultimate goal of the project is to identify the technological hurdles of dispatching a lightweight instrument package to another stellar system. First phase of work is foreseen as a "less demanding" mission: Sending a probe to the Kuiper belt in a decade's time. The company's work to date suggests that a small instrument payload could be sent out to a distance of 250 AU from the Sun in 10 years using 30 milligrams of anti-hydrogen. Preliminary calculations also indicate that a similar probe could be sent to the next star, Alpha Centauri, actually a triple star system, in 40 years using grams of antimatter.