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Proceedings Paper

Ultrashort pulse lasers applied to propulsion/control in space- and atmospheric-flight
Author(s): Kevin Kremeyer
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Paper Abstract

An impulse measurement device and analysis package was conceived, designed, constructed, tested, and demonstrated to be capable of: measuring nanoNewton-seconds to milliNewton-seconds of impulse due to laser-ablation; being transported as carry-on baggage; set-up and tear-down times of less than an hour; target exchange times of less than two minutes (targets can be ablated at multiple positions for thousands of shots); measurements in air and in vacuum; error of just a few percent; repeatability over a wide range of potential systematic error sources; and time between measurements, including ring-down and analysis, of less than 30 seconds. The instrument consists of a cantilever (i.e. leaf spring), whose time-dependent displacement/oscillation is measured and analyzed to determine the impulse imparted by a laser pulse to a target. These shapes are readily/commercially available, and any target material can be used, provided it can be fashioned in the form of a cantilever, or as a coating/film/tape, suitable for mounting on a cantilever of known geometry. The instrument was calibrated both statically and dynamically, and measurements were performed on brass, steel, and Aluminum, using laser pulses of ~7ns, ~500ps, and ~500fs. The results agree well with those published in the literature, with surface effects, atmosphere, and pre-/post-pulses demonstrating interesting effects and indicating areas for further study. In addition to exploring space-propulsion applications, measurements were performed to explore the strong beneficial effects of depositing lines of energy ahead of supersonic and hypersonic vehicles. This deposition creates a low-density channel, through which a vehicle can travel with dramatically reduced drag. Temperature and pressure are both also reduced on the front surfaces of the vehicle, while density and pressure are increased at the vehicle base. When applied off-center, this technique can be used to control the vehicle, employing the entire body as the control surface and eliminating the need for actuators. Numerical results for drag-reduction, temperature-reduction, and control forces are indicated here.

Paper Details

Date Published: 14 May 2008
PDF: 17 pages
Proc. SPIE 7005, High-Power Laser Ablation VII, 700506 (14 May 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.786468
Show Author Affiliations
Kevin Kremeyer, Physics, Materials and Applied Mathematics Research, L.L.C. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7005:
High-Power Laser Ablation VII
Claude R. Phipps, Editor(s)

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