Space Power Conference Highlights

From Transterrestrial: 1. Jay Penn of Aerospace described a proposed a 125kW laser beaming demonstrator , that could scale up to 200kW with technology insertion. The system would be self-lifting from LEO to GEO using ion propulsion, to save mass.

2. Jordin Kare discussed on laser diode power beaming that will be used at the Space Elevator games.

Laser-Motive (his company) was formed to develop laser power beaming technology, but the current focus is on winning the prize. Their concept uses a fixed set of laser diodes and optics, with a steering mirror below the climber. They are estimating 10% efficiency, but actually getting more like 13%. They have 8 kW of laser power to deliver a kilowatt to the climber. Got good price on “seconds” for the lasers (a little less than $10/watt so about $80K). DILAS is offering to build a custom system ($35,000 for 2.5kW), and will set a new radiance standard. Can go to much more range with bigger optics and more power. deliver tens of kilowatts at tens of kilometers with this technology. Could be used for ground to aircraft or ground vehicles of mirrors on aerostats, or air to ground to simulate space-to-ground. ISS to ground is also a possibility. Next steps: higher radiance, coherent systems (e.g., fiber lasers), lightweight low-cost optics, and then operational systems.

3. Jay Penn described five different powersat concepts that Aerospace has been working on.

One of their concepts is a laser system that is very scalable (480 satellites for 1.2 GW). It uses a layered approach, with pump-laser diodes, microoptics, and a radiator on the back. Output beam is about a thousand nanometer wavelength. He thinks it the most promising architecture of those considered.

4. The first of Transterrestrials articles about the conference. Discusses the keynotes and current launch costs.

Aerospace corporation website

– Approximately 3,500 employees, two-thirds of whom are members of the technical staff
– Operate a federally funded research and development center for the U.S. Air Force and provide comprehensive technical services to national-security space programs.

About The Author