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New Paper: A Comparison of Laser and Microwave Approaches

Posted by: Kevin Parkin - Fri Jan 06, 2006 8:54 pm
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New Paper: A Comparison of Laser and Microwave Approaches 
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Post New Paper: A Comparison of Laser and Microwave Approaches   Posted on: Fri Jan 06, 2006 8:54 pm
Jordin Kare and I have finished a new paper that examines the difference between laser and microwave thermal launch beam facilities:

Kare, J.T., and Parkin, K.L.G, A Comparison of Laser and Microwave Approaches to CW Beamed Energy Launch, Proc. Fourth International Symposium on Beamed Energy Propulsion-2005, New York: American Institute of Physics.

Abstract. One approach to beamed energy propulsion uses a solid heat exchanger to absorb energy from a distant source and transfer it to a working fluid. Systems of this type can be designed using either microwave or laser sources. In general, microwave sources have been expected to be less expensive than lasers for a given power, but to be more limited in range and/or energy density. With the development of high power millimeter-wave sources and low-cost diode laser arrays, both assumptions are open to question. In this paper, we compare current and projected microwave and laser source technologies for a 100-kilogram-class ground-to-orbit launch system and identify key issues affecting the system-level trade between the two approaches.

PDF Preprint

There are reasons to go with laser launch and other reasons to go with microwave launch. Each has its relative merits depending on your needed payload capacity, launch rate etc. The bottom line from the cost perspective is that we estimate for ~ $2.5Bn you can build a 100 MW laser launch facility or a 250 MW microwave launch facility. Each Megawatt of power corresponds roughly to 100 kg of payload. At this early stage the error bars on those numbers are large.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Jan 06, 2006 10:03 pm
After reading it, the small cost diffrence, technical difficulties, etc I have a "very small" favor for the micro wave system.
Atleast, I think I favor Laiser based system for small payloads, but I fear this one will have to compete with the Space Elevator in the future, while for larger payloads, there isn't that much other "possible" systems available at lower costs.
Maybe future laiser developments, as noted, may scale down the cost, I'm not an expert, or scientist.. the PDF included some posibilities of cost reduction in the future, but I have no clue how important each part is, or are "technically" able to reduce in price, and I guess.. we may only know in time, so I think I hope both Laiser and Microwave thermal rockets research will go on... even if one takes a lead at lower cost... maybe a restriction on the long run, may provide the other one the capability to scale down lower in price, but more slowly.

Is it theoretically possible to create a launch system, combining laiser and microwave systems, to test them both (not at the same time), but the energy source and other parts can be shared, lowering the costs to test both, or do they need a lot of fundamental changes ? Of course the total cost will rise, instead of testing 1 system... and I don't know who can provide a few billion US$.... but I can imagen a future with thousands of people living in space, with mining operations etc, creating a large "demand" for payloads, providing a lot more money... and if the suply does not fit the demand... especially if many people see a lot of money in mining... I think potential solutions such as this may get a lot of attention... I think 10 years in the future is still relative soon for this... but for me, early in my twenties, I still have a long life to live :)

Imagen if this system would be build on the moon, the change of gravity, atmosphere etc.. Do I guess right, laiser would be more favorable in this case ?

Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. - Lord Kelvin, 1892

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Post actively researching   Posted on: Thu Apr 27, 2006 4:41 am
Hello everyone. my name is Vince, team leader of the SpaceMiner Project. we are competing in the Elevator2010 'Beam Power' Centennial Challenge held by NASA. this is a 5 year long contest. 2nd annual event will be held at the X-Prize Cup in New Mexico, Oct 4th, 2006 [i think]

in our 1st year, we built the world's 1st solar-powered ribbon climbing wheelchair. unfortunately, 31,000 watt spot lights wern't enough to power any climber more than 40ft.

this year we are experimenting with microwave, light & thermal systems. a 900w laser would be extreemly expensive and bulky! i would also need to be registered to operate it. a 900w microwave oven cost about $75 bucks at wal-mart. because of this alone, i feel that microwave energy is much easier and cheaper to produce than laser... both small & large-scale. a maser would be ideal for long distances. but, for the contest, it's only 200ft up. we are attempting to lift approx 200lbs to the top of the ribbon at 1.66 m/sec

i have been contemplating the use of a rectenna but feel it's too inefficient for the expense. i have a few interesting alternatives. however, i don't want to release any info that may jepordize the spaceminers winning the $150,000 grand prize.

of course none of this has to do with rockets. i just wanted to promote our team THE SPACEMINERS and our website WWW.DFWSPACEPORT.COM as well as put in my 2 cents worth about laser vs. microwave from my point of view.

one last thing... if you're interested in volunteering or supporting our team, please email us! we'll find a place for you. virtual team members welcome :)

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Post    Posted on: Sun May 07, 2006 7:52 pm
I keep begging the folks at Liftport to contact Kvaerner to see if the folks who build oill platforms might give them seed money. You might try that.

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