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ROCKET SCIENCE
Laser and photon propulsion improve spacecraft maneuverability
by Staff Writers
Tustin CA (SPX) Jun 11, 2013


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Y.K. Bae Corporation proposes to adapt state-of-the-art high power lasers to dramatically expand applications for photon thrust in spacecraft propulsion. Current research on Directed Energy Momentum Beaming (DEMB) shows how advances in photon propulsion based on high power Thin Disk Laser technology can virtually eliminate fuel consumption and lower spacecraft life-cycle costs by orders of magnitude compared to traditional fuel systems.

With DEMB, photons recycled between two spacecraft modules create momentum by repetitive bouncing between high reflectance mirrors with a Photonic Laser Thruster. Momentum is beamed from the resource vehicle to a mission vehicle without using propellant for propellant-less, ultra-precision spacecraft maneuvering, including station keeping, rendezvous and docking, orbit changing, and drag compensation.

Working from a NASA funded NIAC Phase I grant for development of innovative space technologies, Dr. Young Bae, CEO at the Y.K. Bae Corporation, was first to develop, demonstrate and patent technology for maneuvering spacecraft powered by Photonic Laser Thrust (PLT), where the pressure of circulating photons creates momentum for precise, efficient control for formation flying in space.

Conventional spacecraft maneuvering is currently performed by momentum applied to a single vehicle by exhausting fuel in the form of plumb or ions, thus limiting mission life and maneuvering capability to fuel capacity.

In 2007, Dr. Bae's proof of concept successfully demonstrated PLT technology with existing laser technology to control and maintain spacecraft positioning. Now, Bae proposes flight demonstrations of how Directed Energy Momentum Beaming can:

+ Enable virtually unlimited mission lifetimes and expand operational capabilities, since advanced spacecraft maneuverings are no longer limited by onboard fuel.

+ Lower construction/operation costs by reducing the hardware required for higher orbit applications

+ Eliminate environmental contamination or damage to mission crucial elements during proximate operations from cross firing of traditional thrusters.

+ Eliminate environmental contamination or damage to mission crucial elements during proximate operations from cross firing of traditional thrusters.

+ Provide a cost-effective technology foundation with a next generation propulsion system for fast transit solar system or interstellar missions, while returning precise maneuvering benefits for near term space missions.

According to Dr. Bae, "Today's high power Thin Disk lasers with a demonstrated thrust in the ~ 5 mN range broaden the future applications for DEMB spacecraft propulsion beyond formation flying, and enable enhancements to existing mission architectures.

"In principle, DEMB is capable of providing thrusts in the range of 1 mN - 1 N from an operational power source of 100 W - 100 kW delivered by current space-based solar panels."

Dr. Bae is currently exploring funding sources for developing space qualified high power lasers and a flight demonstration for Directed Energy Momentum Beaming as a means of reducing future spacecraft weight and size and enabling unprecedented maneuverability.

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Related Links
Y.K. Bae Corporation
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