Water Vapour Propulsion Powered by a High-Power Laser-Diode

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Y. Minami; S. Uchida (2009), JBIS, 62, 332-339

Refcode: 2009.62.332
Keywords: Laser propulsion, vapour, water ablation, OTV, Moon, high-power Laser Diode (LD), YAG, fibre laser, fuel cell

Most of the laser propulsion schemes now being proposed and developed assume neither power supplies nor on-board laser devices and therefore are bound to remote laser stations like a kite via a laser beam “string”. This is a fatal disadvantage for a space vehicle that flies freely though it is often said that no need of installing an energy source is an advantage of a laser propulsion scheme. The possibility of an independent laser propulsion space vehicle that carries a laser source and a power supply on board is discussed. This is mainly due to the latest development of high power laser diode (LD) technology. Both high specific impulse-low thrust mode and high thrust-low specific impulse mode can be selected by controlling the laser output by using vapour or water as a propellant. This mode change can be performed by switching between a high power continuous wave (cw), LD engine for high thrust with a low specific impulse mode and high power LD pumping Q-switched Nd:YAG laser engine for low thrust with the high specific impulse mode. This paper describes an Orbital Transfer Vehicle equipped with the above-mentioned laser engine system and fuel cell that flies to the Moon from a space platform or space hotel in Earth orbit, with cargo shipment from lunar orbit to the surface of the Moon, including the possibility of a sightseeing trip.


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