Sailing through the Ether

Some smart people over at UW think they know how to get to Mars double quick. They’re optimistic they can trim a trip that would 2.5 years with today’s technology down to a mere 90 days by using a magnetized beam of ions:

Under the mag-beam concept, a space-based station would generate a stream of magnetized ions that would interact with a magnetic sail on a spacecraft and propel it through the solar system at high speeds that increase with the size of the plasma beam. Winglee estimates that a control nozzle 32 meters wide would generate a plasma beam capable of propelling a spacecraft at 11.7 kilometers per second. That translates to more than 26,000 miles an hour or more than 625,000 miles a day.

My only question is what happens if the sail rips? Kinda hard to rig up another sail using your bedsheets when you’re somewhere between Earth and Mars.

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