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Proceedings Paper

Propulsion by laser power
Author(s): Wolfgang O. Schall
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Paper Abstract

Laser power can be transformed into propulsive power to set into motion various kinds of vehicles and other objects on the surface, in the air and in space. The transformation process can occur indirectly, for instance by producing electricity via photovoltaic cells or thermal power. Another possibility is the generation of impulses by the ablation of matter from a solid body, or by the initiation of a high-pressure plasma breakdown wave in a fluid medium. Applications range from driving remotely powered roving vehicles to various kinds of thrusters for space propulsion. The direct thrust of the laser photon flux can be used for the propulsion of laser sailcrafts. Applications in space range from micropropulsion for satellite attitude control in the near-term to futuristic interstellar travel driven by photon propulsion. Other propulsive applications in space concern the change of orbits of objects like man-made orbital debris as well as of large objects (asteroids, comets) for protection of Earth against disastrous impacts.

Paper Details

Date Published: 23 March 2005
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 5777, XV International Symposium on Gas Flow, Chemical Lasers, and High-Power Lasers, (23 March 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.611340
Show Author Affiliations
Wolfgang O. Schall, DLR Institute of Technical Physics (Germany)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5777:
XV International Symposium on Gas Flow, Chemical Lasers, and High-Power Lasers
Jarmila Kodymova, Editor(s)

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