Testing A Light Powered Propulsion System

Submitted by: thezigrat 2 months ago in Science


A practical drive for future star ship designs.

The "Lightcraft" is a laser-propelled spacecraft concept that could ultimately run on other beamed energies, such as microwave.
There are 12 comments:
Male 589
And, when the thing gets farther away and you have to pump gigawatts in so that even some of the photons keep hitting it? I like the idea, but, imagine how difficult it would be to hit a moving target hundred of thousands of miles away. 
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Male 846
arrrgh.  Why take gas with you to be blasted by light for propulsion?  Just use the light itself.  You just need a large sail.  There is no way to blast microwaves down from orbit to a ship launching (as shown in the concept video) as the losses through the atmosphere are horrific (not to mention the risk to birds and other aircraft).  Once in space, just use light.

The spin was just for in atmosphere control, as they needed their test ship to go straight up, as the laser isn't quick enough to follow a moving target.
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Male 15,261
You know why they developed it? Not for cheap space travel. It gives them a legitimate non-military reason to have laser satellites capable of targeting other satellites and missiles.
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Male 1,666
This is a cool Idea but far form 'new" I read science  fiction stories that were written in the 50s so I guess this is science fiction. One problem who could survive being spun at 12,000 rpms.
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Male 6,114
casaledana This type of drive has been mentioned in Larry Niven's Man-Kazin Wars books
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Male 15,261
casaledana the space ship wouldn't need to spin. It just needs gyros to stabilise the ship and keep the sail pointed in the direction of travel. The spin stabilisation of the prototypes is to avoid having to build electronics into the device while they test the propulsion. I figure most of their testing would be static, with the ones shown just to demonstrate to the public and receive more funding from congress.
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Male 3,435
casaledana my first thought would be some super low friction material connecting the engine to the main body, allowing the engine to spin freely and keeping the main portion relatively still.  

Of course it would seem like a massive point of failure, but going by that plan they showed at the end with the flipping ship, hell anything is fair game.
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Male 6,114
daegog have the engine suspended in a magnetic field. in a zero gravity environment it would not take much of a magnetic force
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Male 15,261
It flips because it burns out the reflector and the device loses rotational symmetry. AFAIK, they never solved the problem... Which also has military applications (avoiding getting shot down by Russian "civilian space propulsion" lasers.)
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