Direct Laser Propulsion For Earth-Mars in 30 Days and Eventually 2.5 Days

Limitless Space Institute gave out nine interstellar space-related grants for about $1 million to 2 million each. Phil Lubin’s direct laser propulsion group received a grant and they will use to prove out their directed laser propulsion system at the 10-20 watt level. They are also working on components at the kilowatt to tens of kilowatt level. The plan would be to scale to tens of kilowatts and work towards power beaming to the moon for experiments. In 5-10 years, they hope to reach megawatt levels.

If they reach 500 megawatts then direct laser propulsion could be used for 30 day transit times to Mars. When the system scales to the gigawatt or tens of gigawatt level with a matching deceleration and launching system on Mars this would enable 2.5 day transit times between Earth and Mars. Increasing or decreasing mass by 10,000 times changes the speed by 10 times. A 100-gram package could sent ten times faster than a 1000 kilogram package using the same size laser array and power system. You could send a 1000 kilogram mission to Mars in 30 days or rapidly deliver an urgent package of 100 grams to Mars in about 3 days.

This system for urgent delivery of tiny packages with 1G acceleration and deceleration would be feasible in the 10-20 year time frame.

SOURCES- Phil Lubin, LSI
Written By Brian Wang,

9 thoughts on “Direct Laser Propulsion For Earth-Mars in 30 Days and Eventually 2.5 Days”

  1. Seems to me the smarter thing to do would be to have the laser on a rocket already aimed at Mars. You then blast the beam directly forward with only fractional amounts of angular variation.
    The rocket itself never needs to go to Mars, so long as it's pointed in the right direction for the payload.
    Fusion power, obviously.

  2. The Moon is actually better, not worse, because it only rotates every 27 days, not 1 day, any given site on the back could maintain focus on the same spot potentially for as long as a week or more, even in the plane of orbit.

    But if you launched perpendicular to the plane of the Moon's orbit, (Feasible for some interstellar or gravitational focus missions.) a laser at high latitudes, but on the far side, could maintain focus indefinitely.

  3. Isaac Arthur has a video from a few years back on his YT channel called "Interstellar Highways" that may be worth a watch for those interested. Nothing that hasn't been discussed for years before that, both in sci-fi sources and real world labs to boot, but his videos are always a good watch and include a good mix of the history of any given topic, where it stands now, and what would be needed to bring a concept to fruition. He doesn't shy away from the math either, which is usually the quickest way to expose the feasibility of any idea, no matter how cool a technological breakthrough or idea appears at first glance.

  4. Very true.
    And I don't understand how a laser sited on a rotating body like the Earth or even worse, the Moon, can consistently deliver power to a spacecraft that is moving away in a straight line. Wouldn't you need a series of lasers spanning the globe, and even then, given the orbit of the Earth or its moon around the sun, aiming such laser(s) at a single departing body would seem almost impossible, except for brief periods of alignment.

  5. All you need is a tracking system
    and a large spinning mirror…

    …and you could vaporize
    a human target from space!
    Sorry, obligatory 😛

  6. Siting on the far side of the Moon would appear to me to be politically necessary for any significant power level, given the vulnerability of vital orbital assets.

    And trying to send very high power laser radiation through the atmosphere is just asking for trouble.

  7. This is really cool tech, but it will face some political problems eventually, especially if it reaches really serious power levels.

    A ground or space based 500 Megawatt (or bigger) laser isn't anything to sneeze at.

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