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Proceedings Paper

Comparative lightcraft impulse measurements
Author(s): Wolfgang O. Schall; Hans-Albert Eckel; Wilhelm Mayerhofer; Wolfgang Riede; Eberhard Zeyfang
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Paper Abstract

The impulse coupling coefficients of two radically different laser propulsion thruster concepts (lightcrafts), each 10 cm in diameter, have been measured under equal conditions using two different pendulum test stands. One test stand and one lightcraft of toroidal shape were provided by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. The other test stand and a bell shaped (i.e. a paraboloid) lightcraft were those of the German Aerospace Center (DLR). All experiments employed the DLR electron-beam sustained, pulsed CO2 laser with pulse energies up to 400 J. The laser was operated with two configurations: 1) a stable resonator (flat beam profile); and, 2) an unstable resonator (ring shaped beam profile). A first series of experiments was carried out in the open laboratory environment. Propellant, therefore, was either the surrounding air alone, or Delrin as an added solid propellant. The coupling coefficient was determined as a function of the laser pulse energy. In a second series, the same experiments were repeated at various reduced pressure levels with the German lightcraft suspended in a vacuum vessel. This simulates the conditions of a transitional flight from within the atmosphere to outer space. As an additional parameter the specific mass consumption of Delrin (gram/Joule) was measured for each parameter set, allowing the determination of the average exhaust velocity in vacuum.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 September 2002
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 4760, High-Power Laser Ablation IV, (13 September 2002); doi: 10.1117/12.482046
Show Author Affiliations
Wolfgang O. Schall, DLR (Germany)
Hans-Albert Eckel, DLR (Germany)
Wilhelm Mayerhofer, DLR (Germany)
Wolfgang Riede, DLR (Germany)
Eberhard Zeyfang, DLR (Germany)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4760:
High-Power Laser Ablation IV
Claude R. Phipps, Editor(s)

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