Future Solar Sail Missions

Les Johnson of the NASA Marshall Space Center provides a 37-page presentation on solar sails covering the technical details, past projects and future projects. Near-term work is with various cubesats and solar sails. Near Earth Asteroid Scout The Near Earth Asteroid Scout Will • Image/characterize a NEA during a slow flyby • Demonstrate a low-cost …

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NASA laser wire 3D printing of rocket nozzles is much cheaper and five times faster

A new process called Laser Wire Direct Closeout (LWDC) was developed and advanced at NASA to build a less-expensive rocket nozzle in significantly less time. LWDC is a different process than most 3-D printing technologies, which are powder-based and fabricated in layers. It uses a freeform-directed energy wire deposition process to fabricate material in place. …

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Analog quantum simulation based on laser-trapped circular Rydberg atoms

State-of-the-art techniques make it possible to build a spin-chain quantum simulator based on laser-trapped circular Rydberg atoms. This simulator combines the flexibility of atomic lattices and the individual atomic observable read-out typical of ion trap, together with the strong dipole-dipole interactions of Rydberg atoms. Defect-free atomic chains can be prepared by an evaporative cooling method, …

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Prototype for two beam laser fusion system within a decade if no major hurdles arise

Dramatic advances in laser technology are close to making the two-laser approach feasible, and a spate of recent experiments around the world indicate that an ‘avalanche’ fusion reaction could be triggered in the trillionth-of-a-second blast from a petawatt-scale laser pulse, whose fleeting bursts pack a quadrillion watts of power. If scientists could exploit this avalanche, …

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Breakthroughs could make commercial laser nuclear fusion through billion times improvements in yield

Two recent scientific breakthroughs have opened a new way to laser fusion reactions according to startup HB11 Energy. It involves the reaction between hydrogen H and the boron isotope 11 (HB11) as uncompressed solid state fuel within an extremely high trapping magnetic field. Both of these conditions have been demonstrated by experiments and following predictions …

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Laser arrays for propelling spaceships can also be used like nuclear cannon weapons

A powerful 70 gigawatt laser propulsion system that could accelerate an 100 kilogram object over 122 seconds to 2% of light speed (6000 kilometers per second) would also be able to fire kinetic projectiles at nuclear weapon power. The goal of the Breakthrough Starshot program (which has $100 million in funding) is to send wafer …

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Directed Energy Propulsion has made a lot of experimental progress

Philip Lubin, University of California, Santa Barbara, Directed Energy for Interstellar Study Starting at 26 minutes of this video. They are making progress with laser locking over kilometer distances. They are making 2 gram starchip prototypes. they are looking at making ultrathin starchips that would be a meter across but very lightweight. Arxiv – A …

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Beaming laser power to ion drive is 300-400 times more thrust than just laser photonic sail

A 100 meter to 150 meter solar array that is attuned to the lithium ion will be about 70% efficient. JPL is working on the gridded lithium ion arrays to achieve 60,000 ISP. There is work on 60 meter deployable solar arrays. This system will achieve a speed of about 260 kilometers per second (almost …

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US Air Force will ground demo a 50-120kw laser for a gunship in 2018 then airborne in 2020

The US Air force Special ops command will ground demo a combat laser intended for a AC130 gunship in 2018 and then go airborne with shooting the laser a couple of years after that. Webb’s predecessor, then-Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold, revealed the “moon shot” laser program in 2015 and pushed for a 60-kW or 120-kW …

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Proof of concept lightsail material suitable for interstellar mission

Proposals using large light sails like the Starshot Breakthrough, require mirrors with lateral sizes of 4 × 4 m2, thicknesses of 0.05 lambda, reflectivities of 90 %, ppm level optical absorption and a total mass of only 1 gram. Photonics Crystal are designed with a lattice of holes which remove about 30 % of the …

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