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Proceedings Paper

NASA's daughters: SELENE, PAMELA, and NAOMI
Author(s): John D. G. Rather
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Paper Abstract

Large scale development of space is severely curtailed by two fundamental problems: (1) the very high cost, low efficiency, and low versatility of space transportation systems, and (2) the high cost and low efficiency of systems for providing large amounts of electric power in space. Indeed, the demise of the Space Exploration Initiative (SEI), NASA's hope for returning to the moon "to stay" and proceeding with the manned exploration of Mars, is directly traceable to extremely high costs derived from "business as usual" in space transportation and power. The $400 Billion price tag and 30 year timeline for the SEI as conceived in 1989 pointed to the need for creative and innovative advanced concepts to find paths that are in accord with NASA Administrator Dan Goldin's "quicker, better, cheaper" mandate ifthere is to be a future for large manned operations in space. This perception led to the creation in 1991 of a small advanced technology effort at NASA headquarters that can now report substantial progress toward totally new ways of achieving major space capabilities. This program is known as SELENE (for SpacE Laser ENErgy). Serendipitously, the same effort has matured a radical approach to the construction of very large telescopes that will revolutionize ground and space based astronomy, surveillance, and optical communications. This advanced optics approach, called PAMELA (for Phased Array Mirror, Extendible Large Aperture) is the result of a state-of-the-art marriage between silicon microtechnology and fast optical fabrication methods. All ofthese efforts are now seeking to coalesce in a proposed joint NASAl U.S. Navy effort known as the National Advanced Optics Mission Initiative (NAOMI). NASA's catalytic role in creating and pursing these efforts, together with a strong and production partnership with the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division laboratory at China Lake, California, has led us to the threshold of major new applied optics capabilities. The present two day SPIE symposium and several previous meetings show that enthusiasm for these new optics opportunities is rapidly expanding. This paper will describe a power beaming system that enables lunar colonization, reduces the cost of orbital transfer, and greatly expands the capabilities of communication satellites for both civilian and defense users. Sections that follow then describe the principal near term supporting technology development effort (PAMELA) and the overarching NAOMI program that bridges these development efforts to the long term giant space telescope and power beaming development activities

Paper Details

Date Published: 26 April 1995
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 2376, Laser Power Beaming II, (26 April 1995); doi: 10.1117/12.208209
Show Author Affiliations
John D. G. Rather, NASA Headquarters (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2376:
Laser Power Beaming II
Harold E. Bennett; Richard D. Doolittle, Editor(s)

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