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Sounds like an interesting technology, right? Here's an illustration:
Instead of explosive chemical reactions on-board a rocket, the new concept, called beamed thermal propulsion, involves propelling a rocket by shining laser light or microwaves at it from the ground.
A conceptual microwave-propelled lightcraft receives microwave beams from an array of microwave sources on the ground. Credit: Kevin Parkin
Even if they didn't finish exactly in March, I was hoping to see something about their study by now. But I can't find anything.
NASA is now conducting a study to examine the possibility of using beamed energy propulsion for space launches. The study is expected to conclude by March 2011.
LaserMotive, an independent R&D company specializing in laser power beaming and winner of the 2009 NASA sponsored Power Beaming Competition, today announced it is one of the companies named to work on the new NASA “Ride the Light” project, one of the space organization’s new space technology projects in the Game Changing Technology division to pursue revolutionary technology required for future missions.
Meanwhile, engineers at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, and the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have spent the last six months studying beamed propulsion, looking at Parkin's plans along with two other schemes for beam-riding spacecraft. NASA won't yet talk about its findings
Thanks for those videos.
Originally posted by Phage
Here's some stuff. Why not? Give it shot!
Check out the video Phage posted. Since they have a working demo I'd say it's not sci-fi.
Originally posted by JiggyPotamus
This is sort of sci-fi,
Thanks for that link. Actually, I think it answers my question (sort of), by implying that there apparently is no report:
Originally posted by moebius
Glenn Research Center are doing beamed energy research. But no trace of a report about beamed propulsion.
NASA won't yet talk about its findings...
I agree the illustration is bad. To me it looks more like a beamed energy weapon trying to destroy a rocket propelled spacecraft, instead of beamed energy propulsion.
Originally posted by amongus
And is it just me, or is that the worst graphic illustration ever?
Originally posted by Astyanax
I first heard of this as a means of propelling cars riding a space elevator. I suppose that might be a bit easier than beaming energy at a free-flying spacecraft.
How does that compare with the economics of using a chemical rocket?
Originally posted by sbctinfantry
You're talking about close to a hundred thousand dollars of energy to send something into orbit with a beamed weapon, I mean propulsion system.
The smallest real laser launch system would have 25 to 100 megawatts of power while a microwave system would have 100 to 200 megawatts. Building such an array would be expensive, says Kare, although similar to or even less expensive than developing and testing a chemical rocket. The system would make most economic sense if it was used for at least a few hundred launches a year.
In addition, says Parkin, “the main components of the beam facility should last for well over ten thousand hours of operation, typical of this class of hardware, so the savings can more than repay the initial cost.”