Friday, March 28, 2008

Space Access 2008 - Jordin Kare on Recent Laser-Launch Technology Readiness Progress

Jordin Kare believes lasers burning fuel on the end of a rocket is a good way to launch rockets. The idea is to put the fuel on the rocket and the laser on the ground. The laser targets the rocket and burns the fuel to provide the propulsion. This makes the rocket lighter because it doesn't have to carry an engine.

Jordin says building big lasers have serious problems. The answer is to build lots of small lasers and have them work together. He talked about some of the technical issues for building a collection of lasers.

A recent development in the laser world is fiber lasers. It has improved efficiencies. Jordin says we have the technology to build laser launch rockets.

Jordin answers the important question: "Why build laser launch rockets?" He reminds us that traditional chemical rockets have a number of problems and are very expensive.

Jordin says you could build a 100 Megawatt launch system for around two billion dollars. The big cost is diode lasers. Telecomm is building lots of diode lasers, which helps drop the costs. Jordin says you could launch for less than $1000 a pound, maybe even down to $250 a pound. It would take about three years to build something to launch to the top of the atmosphere.


Q: Does weather affect a laser system?
A: Lasers don't burn though clouds.

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1 comment:

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