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Title: A Review of Laser Ablation Propulsion

Abstract

Laser Ablation Propulsion is a broad field with a wide range of applications. We review the 30-year history of laser ablation propulsion from the transition from earlier pure photon propulsion concepts of Oberth and Saenger through Kantrowitz's original laser ablation propulsion idea to the development of air-breathing 'Lightcraft' and advanced spacecraft propulsion engines. The polymers POM and GAP have played an important role in experiments and liquid ablation fuels show great promise. Some applications use a laser system which is distant from the propelled object, for example, on another spacecraft, the Earth or a planet. Others use a laser that is part of the spacecraft propulsion system on the spacecraft. Propulsion is produced when an intense laser beam strikes a condensed matter surface and produces a vapor or plasma jet. The advantages of this idea are that exhaust velocity of the propulsion engine covers a broader range than is available from chemistry, that it can be varied to meet the instantaneous demands of the particular mission, and that practical realizations give lower mass and greater simplicity for a payload delivery system. We review the underlying theory, buttressed by extensive experimental data. The primary problem in laser space propulsion theory hasmore » been the absence of a way to predict thrust and specific impulse over the transition from the vapor to the plasma regimes. We briefly discuss a method for combining two new vapor regime treatments with plasma regime theory, giving a smooth transition from one regime to the other. We conclude with a section on future directions.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [5];  [6]
  1. Photonic Associates, LLC, 200A Ojo de la Vaca Road, Santa Fe NM 87508 (United States)
  2. Bohn Laser Consult, Weinberg Weg 43, Stuttgart (Germany)
  3. Paul Scherrer Institut, CH5232 Villigen PSI (Switzerland)
  4. Department of Aerospace Engineering, Nagoya University, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya (Japan)
  5. DLR Institute of Technical Physics, Stuttgart (Germany)
  6. Micro-Nano GCOE, Nagoya University, Furo-cho, Nagoya, Aichi (Japan)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
21439582
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: AIP Conference Proceedings; Journal Volume: 1278; Journal Issue: 1; Conference: International symposium on high power laser ablation 2010, Santa Fe, NM (United States), 18-22 Apr 2010; Other Information: DOI: 10.1063/1.3507164; (c) 2010 American Institute of Physics
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ABLATION; ENGINES; GAS LASERS; IONIZATION; LASER-PRODUCED PLASMA; LIQUIDS; PHOTONS; PLASMA JETS; POLYMERS; PROPULSION; PROPULSION SYSTEMS; PULSES; REVIEWS; VAPORS; BOSONS; DOCUMENT TYPES; ELEMENTARY PARTICLES; FLUIDS; GASES; LASERS; MASSLESS PARTICLES; PLASMA

Citation Formats

Phipps, Claude, Bohn, Willy, Lippert, Thomas, Sasoh, Akihiro, Schall, Wolfgang, and Sinko, John. A Review of Laser Ablation Propulsion. United States: N. p., 2010. Web. doi:10.1063/1.3507164.
Phipps, Claude, Bohn, Willy, Lippert, Thomas, Sasoh, Akihiro, Schall, Wolfgang, & Sinko, John. A Review of Laser Ablation Propulsion. United States. doi:10.1063/1.3507164.
Phipps, Claude, Bohn, Willy, Lippert, Thomas, Sasoh, Akihiro, Schall, Wolfgang, and Sinko, John. Fri . "A Review of Laser Ablation Propulsion". United States. doi:10.1063/1.3507164.
@article{osti_21439582,
title = {A Review of Laser Ablation Propulsion},
author = {Phipps, Claude and Bohn, Willy and Lippert, Thomas and Sasoh, Akihiro and Schall, Wolfgang and Sinko, John},
abstractNote = {Laser Ablation Propulsion is a broad field with a wide range of applications. We review the 30-year history of laser ablation propulsion from the transition from earlier pure photon propulsion concepts of Oberth and Saenger through Kantrowitz's original laser ablation propulsion idea to the development of air-breathing 'Lightcraft' and advanced spacecraft propulsion engines. The polymers POM and GAP have played an important role in experiments and liquid ablation fuels show great promise. Some applications use a laser system which is distant from the propelled object, for example, on another spacecraft, the Earth or a planet. Others use a laser that is part of the spacecraft propulsion system on the spacecraft. Propulsion is produced when an intense laser beam strikes a condensed matter surface and produces a vapor or plasma jet. The advantages of this idea are that exhaust velocity of the propulsion engine covers a broader range than is available from chemistry, that it can be varied to meet the instantaneous demands of the particular mission, and that practical realizations give lower mass and greater simplicity for a payload delivery system. We review the underlying theory, buttressed by extensive experimental data. The primary problem in laser space propulsion theory has been the absence of a way to predict thrust and specific impulse over the transition from the vapor to the plasma regimes. We briefly discuss a method for combining two new vapor regime treatments with plasma regime theory, giving a smooth transition from one regime to the other. We conclude with a section on future directions.},
doi = {10.1063/1.3507164},
journal = {AIP Conference Proceedings},
number = 1,
volume = 1278,
place = {United States},
year = {Fri Oct 08 00:00:00 EDT 2010},
month = {Fri Oct 08 00:00:00 EDT 2010}
}