SAILING FROM OCEAN TO SPACE IN THE AGE OF THE ANTHROPOCENE
Does sailing has the potential to face environmental issues?
With innovation in mind, I sought to consider what could be developed from the simple act of sailing. I wanted to use this practice, which has been alive for a long time, to speculate the future, to understand its potential to tackle issues on the planet or to be developed into important innovations. This is why solar sailing is the object of this research: a great innovation based on the concepts of sailing and depending on the forces of nature. Exploring the topics that surround sailing and solar sailing, I developed an interest in questions about the future of humanity. I wondered whether we should develop something like solar sailing, which could take us faster and further than ever before. Is this the right century to invest time and money to develop these kinds of projects? Or should we focus on other issues before trying to escape from our home planet?
What will a sailship look like?
Giovanni Vulpetti (2015) highlights these key points about solar sailcrafts:
- A spacecraft equipped with a sail experiences a continuous thrust that allows it to reach any destination.
- There is no cost of onboard propellant during interplanetary travel.
- As terrestrial sailboats, solar sailships require a device to control the orientation of the sail.
- As terrestrial sailboats, interplanetary sailcraft can be fully reusable.
- Depending on how well the navigation is, flight times for certain missions can be decreased significantly with respect to those obtainable by rockets.
These key points highlight the similarities between a solar sail ship and a traditional sailboat.
[1.Tobia Ravà's interpretation of a solar sailship]
[Will humans ever be able to live in space and sail exactly the same way as a terrestrial sailboat?]
[2. Matteo's interpretation of a solar sailship - structure and functionality: in his drawing he designed a way the craft could deploy the sail]
[3.Stefano, a self-thought yacht designer that applied similar concepts of a sailboat to his drawing of a solar sailship]
[4.Glyn represents the functions and includes different angles to highlight the experience]
As in the 1400s, our ancestors were setting sails to discover new lands, in an hypothetical world of the future we will set sails to reach planets and stars. The pioneering spirit of sailing has been a constant throughout the life of this practice, from the will to discover to increased environmental awareness and a solution-oriented attitude. Sailing allowed humans to explore the world on a slow but incredibly efficient means of transport. In the same way, solar sailing could allow us to explore the universe in a way that is respectful of nature, making use of natural resources efficiently. Solar sailing is not invasive and uses a resource, the Sun, that we could be using more and more effectively. In addition to the pioneering spirit, central to the history of navigation, the concept of sailing, on Earth as in outer space, is understood to allow humans to feel closer to nature and increase their awareness.
Would you like to travel to space if it was safe and if we had the technology in order to do so?
[Assessing the public view on space exploration. 160 respondents, aged 18 to 75]
We should fix the Earth first, since it is the most comfortable planet to live in and maybe develop new technologies in the future.
We should focus on developing technologies to go to space becasue soon enough living on Earth will be unsustainable.
We should try to fix Earth and invest time and money in developing space technology at the same time.