Photonic Laser Thruster

Generating small amounts of thrust with photons is possible under the right conditions. The BAE Institute has demonstrated that it is possible to concentrate light and reflect it back and forth enough times to transfer some of the momentum to a target mirror. While this does not create a large amount of thrust, it can be applied steadily and allowed to accumulate until it becomes significant. It also may prove very useful for making small adjustments to spacecraft positions.

Photonic Laser Thruster Makes Its Debut – [photonics.com]

On Dec. 21, 2006, Bae used a photonic laser and a sophisticated photon beam amplification system to demonstrate that photonic energy could generate amplified thrust between- two spacecraft by bouncing photons many thousands of times between them. Repeated experiments since then have confirmed the results.

Advanced Space Technologies: Advanced Propulsion – [baeinstitute.com]

Photonic Laser Thruster (PLT) – Enabling wide ranges of next generation space endeavors from launching spacecraft to near light speed to precision controlling spacecraft/satellite formation flying.

Our patent-pending Photonic Laser Thruster (PLT) is an innovative photon thruster that amplifies photon thrust by orders of magnitude by exploiting an active resonant optical cavity formed between two mirrors on paired spacecraft. PLT is predicted to be able to provide the thrust to power ratio (a measure of how efficient a thruster is in terms of converting power to thrust) approaching that of conventional thrusters, such as laser ablation thrusters and electrical thrusters.

Photonic thruster pulses into existence – [eetimes.com]

Bae claims to have removed the last stumbling block to using photonic thrusters for spacecraft propulsion. The problem with other designs has been the minuscule thrust and difficulty in staying on target with the lasers. Bae claims to have solved these problems by integrating an optical cavity into a laser that traps the beamed photons, thereby amplifying their light pressure by 3000-times, while easing targeting with a centrally located laser in space.

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