Can lasers be used for propulsion?

There are several forms of laser propulsion in which the laser is used as an energy source to provide momentum to propellant that is carried on board the rocket. The use of a laser as the energy source means that the energy provided to the propellant is not limited by the chemical energy of the propellant.

How do solar sails create propulsion?

Solar sail propulsion uses sunlight to propel vehicles through space, much the way wind pushes sailboats across water. The technology uses solar photons—sunlight—which are reflected off giant, mirror-like sails made of lightweight, reflective material 40 to 100 times thinner than a piece of writing paper.

How fast can a solar sail accelerate?

Solar sails have a maximum speed which is 10% the speed of light, which equates to 18,600 miles per second or, 67,100,000 mph. Solar powered spacecrafts are able to travel faster than conventional rocket fueled spacecrafts due to constant light pressure being applied to the sail propelling it forward.

How long would it take to get to Mars with a solar sail?

The idea is to yoke a small probe to a solar sail, orbit a laser array, and push the probe toward its destination at speeds far in excess of anything we can attain these days. Lubin estimates a probe weighing only a few hundred pounds could be accelerated to Mars using this method in just three days.

How far can a laser go in space?

Each laser has the power of about four laser pointers and must be detected by a spacecraft an average of 137 miles (220 kilometers) away. Even the ultra- precise assembly of the satellites isn’t enough to guarantee the laser transmitted from each spacecraft will be aligned well enough to hit the other spacecraft.

Do lasers have recoil?

The laser does indeed have recoil; however, the momentum of the particles p=h/lambda isn’t very much (h is a very small number). The laser would be slowed a very small fraction.

Does NASA use solar sails?

NASA has also greenlit Solar Cruiser, a mission launching in 2025 to test a giant sail measuring 1,650 square meters (17,800 square feet) at an artificial orbit between the Earth and Sun. Solar sail spacecraft use thin, shiny sails to reflect sunlight, giving them a continuous push that equates to unlimited fuel.

What are the advantages of using a solar sail?

The major advantage of a solar-sail spacecraft is its ability to travel between the planets and to the stars without carrying fuel. Solar-sail spacecraft need only a conventional launch vehicle to get into Earth orbit, where the solar sails can be deployed and the spacecraft sent on its way.

Would a sail work in space?

Just like cloth sails harness the wind, giant reflective sheets called solar sails can harness the sun’s energy . These sheets could save fuel and provide maneuverability, but cannot function deep in space. As billions of light particles hit the sheet, they push the sail strongly enough to move a spacecraft.

Why do blasters have recoil?

If I remember from the expanded universe they fired bolts of energized gas, so in effect plasma. Assuming this then newton’s law of motion would account for the recoil, as the gas/plasma is emitted. On a storm trooper rifle magazine would hold enough gas for 500 shots.

How does photonic propulsion work in solar sail?

Photonic propulsion works by firing lasers at a reflective material like a solar sail. Though the photons in the laser do not have mass, they do have energy and momentum, and they transfer a small amount of kinetic energy to the reflective surface when they bounce off.

How does a laser propulsion system transfer momentum?

Laser propulsion systems may transfer momentum to a spacecraft in two different ways. The first way uses photon radiation pressure to drive momentum transfer and is the principle behind solar sails and laser sails. The second method uses the laser to help expel mass from the spacecraft as in a conventional rocket.

What kind of SAIL does a laser push sail use?

Metzgar and Landis proposed a variant on the laser-pushed sail, in which the photons reflected from the sail are re-used by re-reflecting them back to the sail by a stationary mirror; a “multi-bounce laser-based sail.”

How are solar sails used in the Solar System?

Since they get a continuous push from the sun, solar-sail-powered ships can constantly accelerate as they journey to the edge of the solar system, achieving super-fast speeds that would be much more difficult for chemical rockets. Alternatively, solar sails can also be driven by gargantuan laser beams.