This thread is here in GD as, hopefully, a sister thread to the informative Space Elevator discussion. I wish to discuss/debate the viability of the laser propulsion technology, the size of the lasers required to move the tech towards payloads capable of supporting manned flight, and the cost of pulling it all off. Years ago Leik Myrabo began a series of experiments using lasers to propel his “light craft” upwards. He met with early success, peaked my curiosity, and the whole thing seems to have petered out. I don’t understand why, but I have some suspicions. . .
This tech seems very promising. From 1999:
Later, seeming success with moving the project forward.
Then for 3 years I can find no new developments. The last time the LCI website was updated was nearly 3 years ago! I know that the government had him use a plywood board stopper in early experiments to avoid damaging satelites with the laser. I am suspecting that maybe his work (and the work of others in this department) has gone Top Secret. We are talking about powerful lasers that could probably have other military applications as well (star wars anyone?). I fear that we may be sacrificing what could be a terrific launch tech so that we can keep our biggest baddest lasers a secret. Pure conjecture on my part, of course. The military involvement and the prolonged silence just make me suspicious.
So, what would it take to make this tech work? How much would it cost? Would the government let us use this tech yet? Would they keep it from us? Shouldn’t laser propulsion be a top contender for next gen launch tech? I barely see anything in the news about it anymore and am hoping we can find out what progress has occurred in the last 3 years.