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FOIA: Advanced Power Sources for Space Missions

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posted on Nov, 15 2007 @ 08:54 AM
Advanced Power Sources for Space Missions
Engineering study on how to power the Star Wars Defense Program (SDI) in peacetime and wartime, plus that power's application to spacecraft.

Document date: 1989-01-01
Department: Committee on Advanced Space Based High Power Technologies
Author: J.G. Gavin Jr., and T.R. Burkes (National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council)
Document type: Engineering Report
pages: 145


Archivist's Notes: Fair type quality, poor image and graph quality, interesting take on the energy problems faced by the Star Wars Program, and an exploration of many different power types.

posted on Nov, 17 2007 @ 09:16 AM
Had a scan through the document, will add up some more later but heres what i have found thus far.

The PDF includes a study of a project approved by The Governing board of the National Research Council whose members were drawn from the Councils of National Academy Sciences; Engineering; and Institute of Medicine.

The meat of the study contains a reasonably detailed report on power sources for devices such as Direct-Energy Weapons (DEWs) for use in space (lunar or Orbital). Requirements, recommendations, and conclusions were given based upon available data using technology being researched or otherwise deployed. Cost, maintainability, and reliability appeared to be the main concerns expressed in the report.

The defense system was to be powered in peacetime by a SP-100 space nuclear reactor. During “Battle mode” power would be generated chemically by the reaction of hydrogen with oxygen producing high-pressure steam in order to drive turbo-generators with the resulting steam “effluent” is released into space during battle.

Proposed energy sources for direct-energy weapon (under alert & burst modes) included:-

  • – Chemical (effective for short durations)
  • – Nuclear (effective for large durations and considered the most viable)
  • – Solar
  • – Beaming power sourced on earth using microwaves or laser (“has not been extensively explored as a space power option but may be worthy of further study”).

The energy options mentioned in the PDF include:-
Non-nuclear option – refers to solar photovoltaic, solar-dynamic, and chemical (including magneto-hydro-dynamic [MHD])
Nuclear option – refers to Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs), Dynamic Isotope Power Sources (DIPS), and nuclear reactors.
A power source transmitting microwave or lasers from earth to the defense system was also discussed.

The PDF also mentioned “SDI Program were pursuing the following systems:”

  • - ground based free-electron lasers (FELs);
  • – space-based free-electron lasers (FELs);
  • – ground based excimer lasers;
  • – neutral-particle beam (NPB) systems;
  • – charged particle beam (CPB) systems;
  • – kinetic energy weapon (KEW) systems;
  • – chemical lasers
  • – radars (radio detecting and ranging systems); and
  • – lidars (light detecting and ranging systems).

“The SDI Space Power Architecture System (SPAS) studies (1988) indicated that current ground-based versions of the FELs and excimer lasers required prime power in excess of 1GWe per site”.

Reports mentions that after studying the available/existing SDI space power architecture, a comparison for evaluation was not possible. Evaluation included cost; cost effectiveness, survivability, reliability maintainability, and operational readiness as well as not adequately “relate to the design of complete SDI spacecraft systems”. It was also said that the proposed space-based weapon was considered too large to operate and impractical in cost and launch, therefore major innovations were required in power systems and their components or overall energy requirements were to be relaxed.

The artwork showed a space station equipped with a Direct-Energy Weapon (DEW), the DEW depicted shows a free-electron laser. It was mentioned that “such a weapon might form part of a U.S. Strategic Defense system to be used against nuclear missiles”. There was also mentioning of Kinetic Energy Weapon (KEW). It was stated that the actual platform of weapons defense initiative may not closely resemble the system depicted in the painting by Robert McCall (in the PDF) whose endeavor was to capture the power and essence of a potential space defense system.

The study conducted under the auspices of the Energy Engineering Board of the National Research Council examined the status and outlook of the advance power sources for space missions. The study resulted from a request by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for an independent review relating to the space power requirements of its Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Initial interest for the study came from the U.S. Air Force Wright Aeronautics Laboratories at about the same time the SDI Organisation (SDIO) was being formed in the DoD. It was mentioned that the technology options were mainly considered for their capability to provide space-based power for applications other than propulsion.

There was an appending document submitted which may be of interest, details as mentioned in the PDF:-
*Report and the study were supported by Contract No. F49620-85(or S)-C-107 from the United States Air Force to the National Academy of Sciences. Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 88-63907 ISBN 0-309-03999-1

posted on Nov, 21 2007 @ 08:55 AM
We can sign treaties and talk soft till the cows come home, but there will be weapons in space. There most likely are already weapons in space. This report centers around "power for uses other than propulsion", which translates to weapons.

And as long as it isn't just one nation or group that has such weapons there, then stability will be maintained. I personally wish we could leave our conflicts on Earth, but it is not in our nature to do so.

Here we have some look into the considerations for the weaponization of space.

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