posted on Jun, 21 2004 @ 01:22 PM
PROTOTYPE LASER PROPELLED SPACECRAFT
This amazing prototype of a laser-propelled spacecraft is currently
undergoing trials at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
Originally intended as a Strategic Defense Initiative microsatellite,
the craft was propelled by a ground-based 10kw Textron high-energy,
pulsed carbon-dioxide, infra-red laser. It is designed to convert
kilojoule pulses of laser energy, focused at ten times a second
onto a parabolic mirror at its base, into propulsive thrust.
The laser energy is concentrated to extremely high intensities,
sufficient to burst inlet air momentarily into highly luminous plasma
(10-30,000 degrees), with up to ten atmospheric pressures, providing
thrust. An operational Lightcraft, with on-board propellant, would
fly to Mach 5 on an air-breathing engine then shift to laser-propelled