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Mission Analysis for LEO Microwave Power-Beaming Station in Orbital Launch of Microwave LightcraftA detailed mission analysis study has been performed for a 1 km diameter, rechargeable satellite solar power station (SPS) designed to boost 20m diameter, 2400 kg Micr,oWave Lightcraft (MWLC) into low earth orbit (LEO) Positioned in a 476 km daily-repeating oi.bit, the 35 GHz microwave power station is configured like a spinning, thin-film bicycle wheel covered by 30% efficient sola cells on one side and billions of solid state microwave transmitter elements on the other, At the rim of this wheel are two superconducting magnets that can stor,e 2000 G.J of energy from the 320 MW, solar array over a period of several orbits. In preparation for launch, the entire station rotates to coarsely point at the Lightcraft, and then phases up using fine-pointing information sent from a beacon on-board the Lightcraft. Upon demand, the station transmits a 10 gigawatt microwave beam to lift the MWLC from the earth surface into LEO in a flight of several minutes duration. The mission analysis study was comprised of two parts: a) Power station assessment; and b) Analysis of MWLC dynamics during the ascent to orbit including the power-beaming relationships. The power station portion addressed eight critical issues: 1) Drag force vs. station orbital altitude; 2) Solar pressure force on the station; 3) Station orbital lifetime; 4) Feasibility of geo-magnetic re-boost; 5) Beta angle (i..e., sola1 alignment) and power station effective area relationship; 6) Power station percent time in sun vs, mission elapsed time; 7) Station beta angle vs.. charge time; 8) Stresses in station structures.. The launch dynamics portion examined four issues: 1) Ascent mission/trajecto1y profile; 2) MWLC/power-station mission geometry; 3) MWLC thrust angle vs. time; 4) Power station pitch rate during power beaming. Results indicate that approximately 0 58 N of drag force acts upon the station when rotated edge-on to project the minimum frontal area of 5000 sq m. An ion engine or perhaps an electrodynamic thruster (i.e., geomagnetic re-boost) station-keeping system can maintain the orbit altitude. The rate at which the power station s superconducting magnetic energy storage system (SMES) is 'charged' directly relates to the beta angle since the station is operating in the edge-on attitude. The maximum charge rate occurs when the beta angle is at its maximum because time in the sun and projected area of the station are, too, at their maximums For the maximum charge of 2000 G.J with a maximum beta angle of 52 degrees, approximately 3 hours (2 orbital revolutions) are required to reach the full charge, while about 16 hours (10.3 revolutions) are required when the beta angle is 10 degrees. Overall, the LEO station concept appears to be a viable candidate fo1 the formidable power-beaming infrastructure needed to boost MWLC into low earth orbit.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Myrabo, L. N. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst. Troy, NY, United States)
Dickenson, T. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2005
Subject Category
Space Sciences (General)
Meeting Information
4th International Symposium on Beamed Energy Propulsion (ISBEP4)(Nara)
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits