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Earth to space power beaming: A new NASA technology initiativeLaser power beaming from the Earth's surface is an innovative and potentially cost-effective option for reliably providing electrical power for applications such as space transportation, Earth-orbiting satellites, and lunar development. The maturation of laser power beaming technology can support low power applications such as upgraded conventional communications satellites in the present decade. Power beaming systems to support extensive lunar base operations that may consume extremely large amounts of power can be implemented early in the 21st century. The synergistic advantages of high-thrust, high specific-impulse electric propulsion may make enhanced, low cost space logistics an area of unique significance for laser power beaming. Economic forces will continue as a driving factor in the selection of major system elements for both commercial applications as well as the avant-garde national space missions envisioned for the 21st century. As a result, the implementation of laser power beaming systems will only take place if they can demonstrate clear economic benefits without sacrificing performance, personnel safety, or the environment. Similarly, the development activities that are a necessary precursor to any operational system will take place only if key industry and government leaders perceive laser power beaming systems as an achievable goal with realistic payoffs in comparison to competing energy options. This paper summarizes NASA's current research to evaluate laser power beaming systems as they apply to applications of greatest interest, and it includes a summary of the current laser power beaming program within the NASA Headquarters Office of Aeronautics and Space Technology. This research effort will quantify some key technical certainties and uncertainties pertaining to laser power beaming systems appropriate for space applications as well as establish a path of development that includes maturation of key technology components for reliable laser and millimeter wave power beaming systems during the 1990's. The program is known as 'SELENE', an acronym for Space Laser Energy.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Conference Paper
Rather, John D. G.
(NASA Headquarters Washington, DC United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
February 1, 1992
Publication Information
Publication: Arizona Univ., Proceedings of the Lunar Materials Technology Symposium
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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