Bruce Wiegmann of the Advanced Concepts NASA Office goes one step further and has a plan in mind that seems to come straight out of a science fiction movie. He has designed a spacecraft with 10 to 20 electrically charged aluminum wires which are like huge tentacles of a jellyfish extend around the spaceship, the Wiegmann design is also called E-sail.
NASA is now looking at alternative ways of propulsion that can bring us to the edge of our solar system. We could, for example using the solar wind to propel a huge sail.
The wires, which are only a millimeter thick, emit light particles, which results in drive. Each wire would need about 20 kilometers long, making it about as spaceship would be the size of a city.
Traveling in such a moment is not without risk, says Professor Thomas Zurbuchen of the University of Michigan to the BBC. “The wires will be very heavey because they consist of metal,” he says. “If they are hit by a micro-meteorite it will become damaged.”
The spacecraft can bring us within 10 years to the edge of the solar system. By comparison, it took Voyager 30 years to traverse our solar system. The ship is expected in 2020.