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Proceedings Paper

Fission-activated laser as primary power for CW laser propulsion
Author(s): David K. Monroe
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Paper Abstract

Recent advances in the development of reactor-pumped lasers (RPLs) have stimulated renewed interest in the concept of laser-powered propulsion. This paper surveys a number of laser propulsion concepts and identifies the one that is most promising from the standpoint of practicality. It is proposed that a ground-based FALCON (fission-activated laser concept) RPL can provide primary power for this launch vehicle design. The laser-vehicle system could launch small payloads into low-earth orbit (LEO) with high repetition rates and at low costs per kilogram. For the favored design, thruster efficiencies are currently estimated to be about 50%, with 80% being seen as a potentially reliable goal after further design refinements. Laser launch system simulations indicate that, with a buy-in laser power of 10 MW, it will be possible to obtain specific impulses in the range of 600 to 800 seconds and payload-to-power ratios of 1 to 3 kg/MW.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 May 1994
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 2121, Laser Power Beaming, (1 May 1994); doi: 10.1117/12.174191
Show Author Affiliations
David K. Monroe, Sandia National Labs. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2121:
Laser Power Beaming
Jack V. Walker; Edward E. Montgomery, Editor(s)

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