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Beamed-Energy Propulsion (BEP) StudyThe scope of this study was to (1) review and analyze the state-of-art in beamed-energy propulsion (BEP) by identifying potential game-changing applications, (2) formulate a roadmap of technology development, and (3) identify key near-term technology demonstrations to rapidly advance elements of BEP technology to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6. The two major areas of interest were launching payloads and space propulsion. More generally, the study was requested and structured to address basic mission feasibility. The attraction of beamed-energy propulsion (BEP) is the potential for high specific impulse while removing the power-generation mass. The rapid advancements in high-energy beamed-power systems and optics over the past 20 years warranted a fresh look at the technology. For launching payloads, the study concluded that using BEP to propel vehicles into space is technically feasible if a commitment to develop new technologies and large investments can be made over long periods of time. From a commercial competitive standpoint, if an advantage of beamed energy for Earth-to-orbit (ETO) is to be found, it will rest with smaller, frequently launched payloads. For space propulsion, the study concluded that using beamed energy to propel vehicles from low Earth orbit to geosynchronous Earth orbit (LEO-GEO) and into deep space is definitely feasible and showed distinct advantages and greater potential over current propulsion technologies. However, this conclusion also assumes that upfront infrastructure investments and commitments to critical technologies will be made over long periods of time. The chief issue, similar to that for payloads, is high infrastructure costs.
Document ID
20120002761
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Authors
Patrick George (Glenn Research Center Cleveland, Ohio, United States)
Raymond Beach (Glenn Research Center Cleveland, Ohio, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
February 1, 2012
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion and Power
Report/Patent Number
NASA/TM-2012-217014
E-17679
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 371365.06.02.05
CONTRACT_GRANT: NNC08BA08B
CONTRACT_GRANT: USRA 04550-013
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Public Use Permitted.

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