Jeff Greason presented a radically new kind of power beaming. This will enable radical changes to drones, planes and eventually space launch. This presentation is at Space Access 2019.
Electric Sky will help people travel faster, cleaner, quieter, and more economically. They source power from the electrical grid, a reservoir of energy that’s less expensive than most any other, and has the potential to become the cleanest. They transport that energy up to the vehicle while in flight. As a result the vehicle can be lighter, faster, and less expensive to operate.
Electricity to work conversion is 2 to 3 times more efficient than fuel to work.
Size and cost of vehicles driven by energy storage.
If you can beam the power to the vehicle then the energy is massless and electricity costs half as much as fuel.
There has been work where a laser beam did not diffuse over short distances. There were offsetting effects that mitigated the diffusion.
Electric Sky has computer simulations using RF/Microwaves where the beam refocuses. This will allow for a small transmitter and a small receiver.
They have a very sparse array and a lot of this secret.
100-kilogram payload space launcher would need 100 Megawatt class power beamer according to Jeff. A quick check seems to indicate the need for 1.5 gigawatts for the 100-kilogram launcher.
Regular beam power has a spot size of 1.2 L/D. The baseline of the aperture in the new system is the same but the receiver can be made much sparser which makes it much cheaper.