A Review of Laser — Based Propulsion
Laser-based propulsion is one of the more interesting ideas of ‘engine-less’ propulsion, where the mass penalties of traditional (chemical rocket) propulsion systems are avoided by eliminating the need for engine or fuel carried on board the spacecraft. In particular, compared with solar sailing, laser-momentum propulsion offers the possibility to gain orders of magnitude in photon pressure, and has therefore been proposed as a candidate for reaching large interplanetary and even interstellar distances. The solutions to the technological challenges posed to make such systems effective are non-trivial.
This poster paper was written during the author’s Master of Space Studies placement at The Planetary Society, Pasadena, California. This paper discusses briefly laser-based propulsion, outlines some of the obstacles to laser sailing, and offers a view of the state of the art. A copy of a more detailed paper, written for the IAF Congress 2000 in Brazil, can be obtained on request from the author.
KeywordsHubble Space Telescope Solar Sail Optical Aperture Chemical Propulsion Laser Propulsion
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 1.National Aeronautics and Space Adminstration (Tsander, K.): From a Scientific Heritage, NASA Report number TTF-541, 1967Google Scholar
- 3.Weiss, R., Pirri, A., Kemp, N.: Laser Propulsion, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 50–58, March 1979Google Scholar
- 5.Kantrowitz, A.: Propulsion to Orbit by Ground-Based Lasers, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Vol. 10, No. 5, pp. 74–75, May 1972Google Scholar
- 6.CNN: CNN Interactive Cold War Roadtrip<http://cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/experience/the.bomb/route/04.white.sands/SPECIALS/cold.war/experience/the.bomb/route/04.white.sands. Walton, A.-author, Atlanta, May 15, 2000
- 7.Cole, J.: Really Advanced Propulsion Technology, NASA Presentation to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Florida Chapter, January 2000.Google Scholar
- 8.SPACE.com, NASA’s Vision: Probes at Stars by 2100<http://www.space.com/news/21c-exploration_991231.html/news/21c-exploration_991231.html>. Clark, G.-author, December 31, 1999 (posted)
- 9.McInnes, C.: Solar Sailing: Technology, Dynamics and Mission Applications, 1st ed., Springer-Praxis, Chichester UK, 1999Google Scholar
- 10.National Aeronautics and Space Administration: Interstellar Science, Technology, Mission, Roadmap, NASA Unnumbered Draft Document, 1999, Revision 0Google Scholar
- 11.Maccone, C.: (paper on proposed missions) Acta Astronautica vol 43, nos. 9–10, pp455–462, January–February 1999Google Scholar
- 12.Landis, G.: Small Laser-propelled Interstellar Probe, IAF-95-102, Proc. 46th International Astronautical Congress, Oslo, Norway, October 2–6, 1995Google Scholar
- 13.NASA, Advanced Space Transportation Program Website, http://www.highway2space.com/>. Harris, D., May 16, 2000
- 14.Landis, G.: Microwave-pushed Sails for Interstellar Travel, Presentation at NASA 10th Advanced Propulsion Workshop, Huntsville, Alabama, April 5–8, 1999: <http://www.niac.usra.edu/files/studies/final_report/pdf/4Landis.pdf>.
- 15.Danner, R., Unwin, S.: From Milliarcseconds to Micro-arcseconds, http://sim.jpl.nasa.gov/library/book/SIMBook_Chap1.pdf>. part of JPL SIM mission reference book, JPL, Pasadena, USA, May 15, 2000
- 16.Beichman, C. et al: Probing the Central Arcsecond: General Astrophysics with TPF, p73, http://tpf.jpl.nasa.gov/library/tpf_book/Chapter_8c.pdf. part of JPL TPF mission reference book, JPL, Pasadena, USA, May 15, 2000
- 17.Wright, J.: Space Sailing. Gordon and Breach Science Publishers S.A., Pennsylvania, USA, 1992Google Scholar
- 19.Matloff, G.L.: An Approximate Heterochromatic Perforated Light-Sail Theory, IAF-95-IAA.4.1.01, Proc. 46h Int. Astronautical Congress, Oslo, Norway, October 2–6, 1995Google Scholar
- 20.SPACE.com, Space.com Exclusive: Breakthrough in Solar Sail Technology<http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/carbonsail_000302.html>. Clark, G.-author, March 2, 2000 (posted)