Will your children ride a laser beam into orbit? Would you want them to? — Realistic applications of ablative laser propulsion

Phipps, Claude R.
April 2005
AIP Conference Proceedings;2005, Vol. 766 Issue 1, p11
Conference Proceeding
This presentation is about laser space propulsion (LSP), a subset of beamed energy propulsion. After outlining a brief history of the topic and reviewing terminology, we will survey applications which have been suggested and identify those which appear to be highly realistic. It is our contention that most of these, in the near future, will be unmanned and occupy a unique technological niche where LSP based on laser ablation can show strong advantages to the current inhabitants of the niche. Examples are micropropulsion, lifting space vehicle components off the planet, launching completed space vehicles into interplanetary trajectories, and deep space propulsion. There are also military niches, and certain advantages for fs pulses, based on recent work in the fs regime. Perhaps the most exciting application is using LSP to assemble spacecraft in orbit at low cost. We will discuss the three reasons for this anticipated cost benefit. © 2005 American Institute of Physics


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