Investigation of Beamed Energy Concepts for Propulsion. Systems Studies. Volume I.
Final rept. 2 Sep 75-1 Jul 76,
TRW DEFENSE AND SPACE SYSTEMS GROUP REDONDO BEACH CALIF
Pagination or Media Count:
The objective of this program is to assess the feasibility of the beamed energy propulsion concept for Air Force missions. The results of the study indicate that beamed energy propulsion is technically feasible. No fundamental obstacles have been identified. However considerable technical development is needed in many areas before the concept can be operationally implemented. In order to minimize the required collector area, laser concepts are preferred over microwaves. If space based laser transmitter concepts are to be cost effective they will require the availability of megawatt level space nuclear or solar power stations. In view of the large total energy required for each mission, ground based transmitters will be most cost effective when they are operated closed cycle from central station electric power. Laser transmitting ranges greater than several hundred nautical miles will result in excessive collector sizes. Therefore, ground based transmitters applications will be restricted to orbital functions which can be performed at low orbital altitudes. Three promising applications have been identified. The laser powered tug can be cost effective compared to an advanced cryogenic tug. Apsidal rotation correction and drag make-up are two other missions where significant advantages may be realized for the laser powered concept.
- Lasers and Masers
- Unmanned Spacecraft