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Title: Reflector for efficient coupling of a laser beam to air or other fluids

Abstract

A reflector array is disclosed herein that provides a controlled region or regions of plasma breakdowns from a laser beam produced at a remotely-based laser source. The plasma may be applied to produce thrust to propel a spacecraft, or to diagnose a laser beam, or to produce shock waves. The spacecraft propulsion system comprises a reflector array attached to the vehicle. The reflector array comprises a plurality of reflectors spaced apart on a reflective surface, with each reflector acting as an independent focusing mirror. The reflectors are spaced closely together to form a continuous or partially-continuous surface. The reflector array may be formed from a sheet of reflective material, such as copper or aluminum. In operation, a beam of electromagnetic energy, such as a laser beam, is directed at the reflectors which focus the reflected electromagnetic energy at a plurality of regions off the surface. The energy concentrated in the focal region causes a breakdown of the air or other fluid in the focal region, creating a plasma. Electromagnetic energy is absorbed in the plasma and it grows in volume, compressing and heating the adjacent fluid thereby providing thrust. Laser pulses may be applied repetitively. After each such thrust pulse,more » fresh air can be introduced next to the surface either laterally, or through a perforated surface. If air or some other gas or vapor is supplied, for example from a tank carried on board a vehicle, this invention may also be used to provide thrust in a vacuum environment. 10 figs.« less

Inventors:
Issue Date:
OSTI Identifier:
7205613
Patent Number(s):
5152135 A
Application Number:
PPN: US 7-554728
Assignee:
Dept. of Energy, Washington, DC (United States) PTO; EDB-94-088765
DOE Contract Number:  
W-7405-ENG-48
Resource Type:
Patent
Resource Relation:
Patent File Date: 18 Jul 1990
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
33 ADVANCED PROPULSION SYSTEMS; PROPULSION SYSTEMS; DESIGN; SPACE VEHICLES; DIAGNOSTIC TECHNIQUES; ENERGY ABSORPTION; FOCUSING; LASER RADIATION; LASER-PRODUCED PLASMA; REFLECTION; SHOCK WAVES; ABSORPTION; ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION; PLASMA; RADIATIONS; SORPTION; VEHICLES; 330000* - Advanced Propulsion Systems

Citation Formats

Kare, J.T. Reflector for efficient coupling of a laser beam to air or other fluids. United States: N. p., 1992. Web.
Kare, J.T. Reflector for efficient coupling of a laser beam to air or other fluids. United States.
Kare, J.T. Tue . "Reflector for efficient coupling of a laser beam to air or other fluids". United States.
@article{osti_7205613,
title = {Reflector for efficient coupling of a laser beam to air or other fluids},
author = {Kare, J.T.},
abstractNote = {A reflector array is disclosed herein that provides a controlled region or regions of plasma breakdowns from a laser beam produced at a remotely-based laser source. The plasma may be applied to produce thrust to propel a spacecraft, or to diagnose a laser beam, or to produce shock waves. The spacecraft propulsion system comprises a reflector array attached to the vehicle. The reflector array comprises a plurality of reflectors spaced apart on a reflective surface, with each reflector acting as an independent focusing mirror. The reflectors are spaced closely together to form a continuous or partially-continuous surface. The reflector array may be formed from a sheet of reflective material, such as copper or aluminum. In operation, a beam of electromagnetic energy, such as a laser beam, is directed at the reflectors which focus the reflected electromagnetic energy at a plurality of regions off the surface. The energy concentrated in the focal region causes a breakdown of the air or other fluid in the focal region, creating a plasma. Electromagnetic energy is absorbed in the plasma and it grows in volume, compressing and heating the adjacent fluid thereby providing thrust. Laser pulses may be applied repetitively. After each such thrust pulse, fresh air can be introduced next to the surface either laterally, or through a perforated surface. If air or some other gas or vapor is supplied, for example from a tank carried on board a vehicle, this invention may also be used to provide thrust in a vacuum environment. 10 figs.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {1992},
month = {10}
}