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Proceedings Paper

Flight experiments and evolutionary development of a laser-propelled transatmospheric vehicle
Author(s): Franklin B. Mead Jr.; Leik N. Myrabo; Donald G. Messitt
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Paper Abstract

In a series of spectacular experiments conducted at the High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility (HELSTF), White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), NM, using 13- to 15-cm diameter, 40- to 60-g vehicles designed to fly on the 10 kW PLVTS pulsed carbon dioxide laser (1 kJ pulses for 30 microsecond duration at 10 Hz), Prof. Leik Myrabo of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and Dr. Franklin Mead of the Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL) Propulsion Directorate, have been successfully flying laser propelled Lightcraft under a joint Air Force/NASA flight demonstration program. The axisymmetric Lightcraft vehicles are propelled by airbreathing, pulsed- detonation engines with an infinite fuel specific impulse. Impulse coupling coefficients have been measured with ballistic pendulums as well as a piezoelectric load cell and fall in the range of 100 to 200 N/MW. Horizontal wire-guided flights up to 400 ft, using a unique laser beam pointing and tracking guidance system, have demonstrated up to 2.0 G's acceleration measured by a photo-optic array. Spin-stabilized free-flights with active tracking/beam control have been accomplished to altitudes of 15.25 meters. This paper will summarize the progress made to date on the Lightcraft Technology Demonstration flight test program, since the first 12 - 14 July 1996, experiments at HELSTF.

Paper Details

Date Published: 14 September 1998
PDF: 4 pages
Proc. SPIE 3343, High-Power Laser Ablation, (14 September 1998); doi: 10.1117/12.321600
Show Author Affiliations
Franklin B. Mead Jr., Air Force Research Lab. (United States)
Leik N. Myrabo, Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute (United States)
Donald G. Messitt, Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3343:
High-Power Laser Ablation
Claude R. Phipps, Editor(s)

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