P6_5 Interstellar Space Pirates

Jack Strachan-Deol, Katie Knowles, Laura Thompson, Aidan Kelly


The authors present in the following paper an analysis of the use of a solar sail on a typical pirate ship, and how long it would take to reach our nearest interstellar neighbour, Proxima Centauri. Using a ship with mass 1.270 × 10^5 kg, and a total sail surface area of 385.0 m2 , it was found that from an initial velocity of 0.000 ms−1 , the journey would take 8.422 × 10^14 s or approximately 26.71 million years, and the ship would arrive travelling at a velocity of 95.49 ms−1 . Also considered was the case where the ship started with an initial velocity equal to Earth’s orbital velocity v = vtang = 2.798 × 10^4 ms−1 . The journey would take 1.350 × 10^12 s or approximately 42,000 years. The final velocity would be equal to the initial velocity to 4 significant figures.

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