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Proceedings Paper

Laser power beaming: an emerging technology for power transmission and propulsion in space
Author(s): Harold E. Bennett
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Paper Abstract

A ground based laser beam transmitted to space can be used as an electric utility for satellites. It can significantly increase the electric power available to operate a satellite or to transport it from low earth orbit (LEO) to mid earth or geosynchronous orbits. The increase in electrical power compared to that obtainable from the sun is as much as 1000% for the same size solar panels. An increase in satellite electric power is needed to meet the increasing demands for power caused by the advent of 'direct to home TV,' for increased telecommunications, or for other demands made by the burgeoning 'space highway.' Monetary savings as compared to putting up multiple satellites in the same 'slot' can be over half a billion dollars. To obtain propulsion, the laser power can be beamed through the atmosphere to an 'orbit transfer vehicle' (OTV) satellite which travels back and forth between LEO and higher earth orbits. The OTV will transport the satellite into orbit as does a rocket but does not require the heavy fuel load needed if rocket propulsion is used. Monetary savings of 300% or more in launch costs are predicted. Key elements in the proposed concept are a 100 to 200 kW free- electron laser operating at 0.84 m in the photographic infrared region of the spectrum and a novel adaptive optic telescope.

Paper Details

Date Published: 15 May 1997
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 2988, Free-Electron Laser Challenges, (15 May 1997); doi: 10.1117/12.274388
Show Author Affiliations
Harold E. Bennett, Bennett Optical Research, Inc. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2988:
Free-Electron Laser Challenges
Patrick G. O'Shea; Harold E. Bennett, Editor(s)

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