Friday, September 21, 2007

Photon drive! Woo hoo!

The photon drive is now a reality.  No, I'm not kidding.
Part of the Photonic Laser Thrust's secret lies in amplifying and bouncing the photon beam.  The photon beam is bounced back and forth between a set of mirrors, creating a powerful net propulsion force.

Dr. Bae Young built the PLT using off the shelf components at the Southern California laboratory of the Bae Institute.  The patent pending device uses an egg-size laser head to produce a laser so powerful, only massive weapons and commercial grade lasers are able to match it.

The laser generates 35 uN of thrust and is scalable to much larger amounts of propulsion.  Dr. Young Bae has stated that the device could propel a spacecraft to speeds well beyond 100 km/sec.  He recently announced that a spacecraft utilizing the PLT could transit the 100 million km to Mars in less than a week.
As usual, Dr. Bae is NOT part of any big government brain trust, he's running his own shop.  Now that he's got the thing working, the brain trusts are happy to come rain money on him.

At any rate, this is a Big Deal in spacecraft technology.  You can use solar panels to generate as much electricity as you want (in principle anyway) and convert that to thrust with this laser.  No word on how efficient it is, but when the electricity is basically free, that's not too important.  The satellite or ground station with the laser is stationary, it blasts away at the object to be accelerated with the laser.  By bouncing the light beam back and forth between the source and target Dr. Bae gets much more thrust than one would by simply firing a laser. 

One of his ideas is to tie satellites together with a cable and keep them in position by firing the laser, keeping them pulling taut against the cable.  A very, very large telescope can be made cheaply using an idea like this.  Another is to boost small spacecraft (pop can size) to very high speeds, to get them to the outer planets much faster than usual.

Very cool.  ~:D

The Phantom

No comments: