Proceedings PaperLaser lightcraft performance
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Using a pulsed CO2 laser test-bed the properties of a laser lightcraft are investigated with respect to the thrust generating mechanisms. New optical diagnostics allow to measure the mechanical impulse imparted to the lightcraft by the laser pulse with high accuracy. Density variations are measured with a HeNe probe laser and identified as shock waves originating from the laser-induced air breakdown. Wire guided indoor vertical flights are demonstrated with accelerations of about 1 g. Satisfactory agreement between theory and experiment in the time-space domain is found using a strong explosion model. Prediction of mission requirements suggests that lightcrafts of 1 - 10 kg can be placed into orbit with current technology.