Design Investigation of Solar Powered Lasers for Space Applications
MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES NORTHWEST INC BELLEVUE WA
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HE PURPOSE OF THIS STUDY IS TO INVESTIGATE THE FEASIBILITY OF SOLAR POWERED LASERS FOR CONTINUOUS OPERATION IN SPACE POWER TRANSMISSION. Existing lasers are already able to deliver high power over long distances making the solar laser power satellite, laser rocket propulsion and other space applications attractive and competitive concepts. Laser power transmission in space over distances of 10 to 100 thousand kilometers appears possible. Further, there appears to be no fundamental principle limiting the power of solar powered lasers. A variety of lasers was considered, including solar-powered GDLs and EDLs, and solar-pumped lasers. A new indirect solar-pumped laser was investigated which uses a solar-heated black body cavity to pump the lasant. Efficiencies in the range of 10 to 20 percent i.e., laser energy out solar energy in are projected for these indirect optically pumped lasers IOPLs. The weights and efficiencies for each class of laser system can be related to the different pumping mechanisms. GDLs require thermal pumping and will be inefficient and heavy because all of the gas must be heated and cooled. EDLs use electron beam pumping which is more selective than thermal pumping. Therefore EDLs will be more efficient and lighter than GDLs. OPLs use the most selective of all the pumping mechanisms and are not subject to electricity conversion losses these are the lightest and most efficient systems. These intuitive arguments are substantiated in detail by the analysis carried out.
- Lasers and Masers