In my story interstellar travel is common, but nothing's perfect, and a mining ship returning from a deep-space run (you'd be surprised what's out there) just discovered that something is very, very wrong.
\*crackle\* Mayday... Mayday... this is the Tycho Brahe... Primary engine offline. Asteroid impact in the Oort cloud. Request assistance... over. \*squeal*\ Tycho Brahe... this is Sol reference Alpha. What is your vector to the initial... over. Sol Alpha, Tycho Brahe, solar declination +23°, right ascension -87°, Delta-forty-alpha, Victor-five-charlie. ... Sol Alpha, Tycho Brahe, are you still there? Tycho Brahe, Sol Alpha, negative on assistance. Repeat, negative on assistance. Recommend deploying solar sails and maintain vector to the initial... over.
Question: Given 40 Km2 solar sails (and ignoring necessary support structure), is it possible for a ship with a mass of 5,000,000 Kg traveling at 0.05c at a distance of 40AU from the sun to deploy those sails and, using only the solar wind, decelerate to 250,000 Kph before crossing the "orbital sphere" of Mercury?
Solar Declination & Ascension This doesn't actually have anything to do with the question, but just for fun and off the top of my head (please let me know if I've plagarized a published story!), I defined the reference for solar declination and solar ascension as measured from the line drawn from the center of the sun to the center of the galaxy and otherwise used in the same way Astronomers use declination and ascension. It eliminates the position of the earth from the equation (making the reference static and applicable by math to any body in the solar system ... or any solar system). Thus, "Vector to the initial" would always be your position and speed in relation to an approach toward the center of the sun.
If I haven't plagarized from somewhere... I thought of it first! 😀
Victor-five-charlie Also for fun, an over-the-radio way of saying "my velocity (victor) is 5% or 0.05 of the speed of light (charlie)." The percentage is always assumed.
Delta-Forty-Alpha Ditto, the distance from the sun along the indicated vector in "alpha" or AU.
Vector to the Initial Yes, I'm not using this in the same way today's pilots do.
Orbital Sphere Out of curiosity, do astronomers today have a phrase that identifies the sphere enclosing a radius from the sun equal to a planetary orbital distance?