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Thruster May Shorten Mars Trip (from six months to a week!)
Photonics.com News ^ | 9/7/07

Posted on 09/10/2007 11:31:01 AM PDT by LibWhacker

TUSTIN, Calif., Sept. 7, 2007 -- An amplified photon thruster that could potentially shorten the trip to Mars from six months to a week has reportedly attracted the attention of aerospace agencies and contractors.

Young Bae, founder of the Bae Institute in Tustin, Calif., first demonstrated his photonic laser thruster (PLT), which he built with off-the-shelf components, in December.

The demonstration produced a photon thrust of 35 µN and is scalable to achieve much greater thrust for future space missions, the institute said. Applications include highly precise satellite formation flying configurations for building large synthetic apertures in space for earth or space observation, precision contaminant-free spacecraft docking operations, and propelling spacecraft to unprecedented speeds -- faster than 100 km/sec.

“This is the tip of the iceberg," Bae said in a statement from the institute. "PLT has immense potential for the aerospace industry. For example, PLT-powered spacecraft could transit the 100 million km to Mars in less than a week.”

Bae founded the institute to develop space technologies and has pursued concepts such as photon, antimatter and fusion propulsion for more than 20 years at SRI International, Brookhaven National Lab and the Air Force Research Lab. He has a PhD in atomic and nuclear physics from UC Berkeley.

Several aerospace organizations have expressed interest in collaborating with the institute to further develop and integrate PLT into civilian, military and commercial space systems, Bae said, and he has recently been invited to present his work by NASA, JPL, DARPA and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

Franklin Mead, a senior aerospace engineer at AFRL, said in a Bae Institute statement that the PLT demonstration and measurement of photon thrust is "pretty incredible. I don’t think anyone has done this before. It has generated a lot of interest."

The institute said Bae’ paper, “Photonic Laser Propulsion: Proof-of-Concept Demonstration,” was recently accepted for publication this year in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets. It documents how he overcame the inherent inefficiencies of traditional photon thrusters in generating thrust by amplification with the use of an innovative optical cavity concept.

"For decades, rocket scientists have tried to overcome the inefficiency of photon thrusters by amplification based on optical cavities separated from laser sources, but failed," the institute said. "In contrast, Bae’s PLT (patent pending) places the laser medium within a resonant optical cavity between two platforms to produce a very stable and reliable thrust that is unaffected by mirror movement and vibration -- ideal for spacecraft control or propulsion."

Bae will present at the AIAA SPACE 2007 Conference & Exposition, to be held Sept. 18-19 in Long Beach, at four sessions: Space Transportation Systems, Promising Space Concepts from the NASA Institute of Advanced Concepts (NIAC), Space Systems for the Next 50 Years, and Advanced Vehicle Systems.

The PLT research was partially funded by NIAC (NASA Institute of Advanced Concepts) as part of a spacecraft formation flight concept grant.


TOPICS: Astronomy; Science; Travel
KEYWORDS: mars; photon; shorten; thruster
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1 posted on 09/10/2007 11:31:08 AM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: KevinDavis

Ping


2 posted on 09/10/2007 11:33:53 AM PDT by JamesP81
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To: LibWhacker

Does this mean I can go home now?

*shifty eyes*


3 posted on 09/10/2007 11:34:02 AM PDT by wastedyears (George Orwell was a clairvoyant.)
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To: LibWhacker
An amplified photon thruster...

I wonder if you could make a torpedo out of that thing?

Sorry, I had to say it.

4 posted on 09/10/2007 11:34:08 AM PDT by Ancesthntr
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To: LibWhacker

35 µN? That ain’t a lot of cookies....................


5 posted on 09/10/2007 11:35:31 AM PDT by Red Badger (ALL that CARBON in ALL that oil & coal was once in the atmospere. We're just putting it back!)
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To: LibWhacker

So, after testing and all, it may be ready for use in like the year 29,4701.


6 posted on 09/10/2007 11:36:23 AM PDT by BibChr ("...behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them?" [Jer. 8:9])
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To: LibWhacker
...For example, PLT-powered spacecraft could transit the 100 million km to Mars in less than a week.” ...

How many G's would you be pulling?

7 posted on 09/10/2007 11:36:36 AM PDT by FReepaholic (Vini ,Vidi, VD: I Came, I Saw, I Cankered)
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To: LibWhacker
A spacecraft travelling at those speeds will need:

1. A pebble deflector
2. A lot of braking power.
Launch 'em.

8 posted on 09/10/2007 11:36:50 AM PDT by SampleMan (Islamic tolerance is practiced by killing you last.)
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To: LibWhacker
photonic laser thruster (PLT) Sort of like an oscillation overthruster? YoYoDyne Propulsion Labs, standing by.
9 posted on 09/10/2007 11:37:31 AM PDT by SJSAMPLE
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To: Ancesthntr
Amplified photon thruster ...

Uh-heh-heh-heh. Heh-heh-heh.

10 posted on 09/10/2007 11:38:22 AM PDT by stinkerpot65 (Global warming is a Marxist lie.)
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To: LibWhacker

The micromotor could get a micropayload to Mars in a week. If they bolt a hundred million together they could get a one pound payload to Mars in a week.


11 posted on 09/10/2007 11:39:28 AM PDT by RightWhale (It's Brecht's donkey, not mine)
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To: Red Badger
That was just his desktop prototype. He says it's scalable.

But I have a lot of doubts about it myself. We see too many of these too-good-to-be-true scams.

But... IF it's real... OH, BOY!

12 posted on 09/10/2007 11:41:16 AM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: JamesP81

I googled a few articles about this, and I still don’t get it - if photons have no mass, how can they provide acceleration in a vacuum?


13 posted on 09/10/2007 11:42:08 AM PDT by chrisser
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To: chrisser

Photons carry momentum.


14 posted on 09/10/2007 11:43:26 AM PDT by RightWhale (It's Brecht's donkey, not mine)
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To: FReepaholic

And, is that a ‘transit’ using steady acceleration for 7 days — in which case you blast by Mars doing a gazillion mph — or is it 3.5 days to mid-point, at which time you do a 180 and start decelerating (presumably maintaining a constant G load throughout?)

Anybody know how long a human can function under sustained multiple g-loads?


15 posted on 09/10/2007 11:44:18 AM PDT by Clioman
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To: stinkerpot65

LOL!!!!


16 posted on 09/10/2007 11:44:41 AM PDT by Pyro7480 ("Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, esto mihi Jesus" -St. Ralph Sherwin's last words at Tyburn)
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To: wastedyears

Better phone home first...


17 posted on 09/10/2007 11:45:47 AM PDT by Clioman
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To: LibWhacker

If it was built by using “off the shelf parts” then it’s not patentable, IIRC.......


18 posted on 09/10/2007 11:50:07 AM PDT by Red Badger (ALL that CARBON in ALL that oil & coal was once in the atmospere. We're just putting it back!)
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To: FReepaholic

They now need to invent photonic brakes..........


19 posted on 09/10/2007 11:51:51 AM PDT by Red Badger (ALL that CARBON in ALL that oil & coal was once in the atmospere. We're just putting it back!)
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To: FReepaholic; RightWhale

He’s going to have to scale up the power considerably. I think RightWhale has it right... If my back of the napkin calculations are right, and If he can scale it up by a billion-fold (i.e., to 35,000 Newtons), a million kilogram ship (i.e., one of respectable size), starting at an initial velocity of zero, would travel about one kilometer towards Mars in a week’s time. LOL, not too good. So he’s going to have to scale up by a factor on the order of quadrillions or so.


20 posted on 09/10/2007 11:53:22 AM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker
The 'Bae Thruster' principle has been a staple of science [fiction] for 60 years.

Gotta love that name.

21 posted on 09/10/2007 11:53:39 AM PDT by tpaine (" My most important function on the Supreme Court is to tell the majority to take a walk." -Scalia)
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To: RightWhale
Photons carry momentum.

Thanks. I forgot about that. A little Googling and Wikipedia-ing and I have a slightly better understanding.

Although the headache from trying to get my brain around quantum mechanics reminds me why I'm in IT and not physics.
22 posted on 09/10/2007 11:56:25 AM PDT by chrisser
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To: chrisser

That’s the same question I had when NASA said they wanted to test a Scramjet for space propulsion. They’ll need to carry a lot of air on board.


23 posted on 09/10/2007 11:56:34 AM PDT by wastedyears (George Orwell was a clairvoyant.)
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To: Clioman

No, they kinda kicked me off, so I want to surprise them.


24 posted on 09/10/2007 11:57:31 AM PDT by wastedyears (George Orwell was a clairvoyant.)
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To: LibWhacker
Fact is that while we can theoretically build spacecraft that go at amazing speeds, we are always going to be limited in how fast we can go due to risk of collision with objects.

Picture how difficult it is to swerve around objects on the highway at high rates of speed. Now apply that to space only you are moving at much faster rate of speed. Even a tiny piece of space junk the size of a marble can be lethal to a spacecraft moving at a very high rate of speed.

So unless we can develop some kind of sophisticated radar that can allow our spacecraft to see these objects millions of miles away and automatically make slight corrections in course to avoid these tiny objects or unless we develop an exterior to the spacecraft that is impervious to collisions at high rates of speed, we are going to continue to be limited in how fast we can go in space.

What we really need to focus on is teleportation.

25 posted on 09/10/2007 12:02:23 PM PDT by SamAdams76 (I am 77 days away from outliving Freddie Mercury)
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To: Ancesthntr

An effective photon thruster would also make an effective raygun...


26 posted on 09/10/2007 12:04:13 PM PDT by no-s
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To: LibWhacker
The look outside your window:


27 posted on 09/10/2007 12:06:20 PM PDT by JRios1968 (Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God will. - Ben Stein)
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To: SamAdams76

Another possibility I’ve read about: Inducing an artificial “atmosphere” around your ship that extends out hundreds of miles and in which any moderately massive incoming asteroids would burn up. This, perhaps, could be some kind of plasma held in place by a strong magnetic field?


28 posted on 09/10/2007 12:10:00 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: JRios1968

Wow, just like my Corvette! ;-)


29 posted on 09/10/2007 12:14:12 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker

BMFLR


30 posted on 09/10/2007 12:23:04 PM PDT by Kevmo (We should withdraw from Iraq via Tehran. And Duncan Hunter is just the man to get that job done.)
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Don't let him get in the cockpit.
31 posted on 09/10/2007 12:23:25 PM PDT by wastedyears (George Orwell was a clairvoyant.)
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To: Clioman
Anybody know how long a human can function under sustained multiple g-loads?

1G appears to be sustainable for 90+ years. I think that all sustained acceleration would aim to hold 1G. I think that would provide the said velocity of 100 km/sec in less than 24 hours. Dropping that acceleration to .5G would likely provide a more comfortable trip.

A lower thrust over a longer period would seem to be better.

32 posted on 09/10/2007 12:29:35 PM PDT by SampleMan (Islamic tolerance is practiced by killing you last.)
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To: no-s

As long as its not an assault raygun.


33 posted on 09/10/2007 12:34:06 PM PDT by SampleMan (Islamic tolerance is practiced by killing you last.)
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To: Ancesthntr
I don’t know jack about torpedoes, but somebody ping me if they happen across utube videos on how to build one of these bad boys with ‘off the shelf’ parts…I’m thinking this is the newest MUST HAVE for anti-home invasion security.
34 posted on 09/10/2007 12:37:12 PM PDT by dgallo51 (DEMAND IMMEDIATE, OPEN INVESTIGATIONS OF U.S. COMPLICITY IN RWANDAN GENOCIDE!)
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To: SampleMan
A spacecraft travelling at those speeds will need:

2. A lot of braking power.

If the thruster can accelerate it, the same thruster can brake it.

Mark

35 posted on 09/10/2007 12:37:54 PM PDT by MarkL (Listen, Strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government)
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To: AntiKev

Ping to you. Wonder if it would break any glasses?


36 posted on 09/10/2007 12:38:49 PM PDT by Former Proud Canadian (How do I change my screen name after Harper's election?)
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To: SamAdams76

This is what shields are for, haven’t you ever seen StarTrek?


37 posted on 09/10/2007 12:57:42 PM PDT by east1234 (It's the borders stupid. It's also WWIV.)
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To: MarkL
If the thruster can accelerate it, the same thruster can brake it.

Sorta my point. A lot of fuel will have to be accelerated, because it will be needed to de-accelerate.

38 posted on 09/10/2007 12:57:50 PM PDT by SampleMan (Islamic tolerance is practiced by killing you last.)
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To: LibWhacker

This is WAY too cool to be true.


39 posted on 09/10/2007 12:59:32 PM PDT by Lee'sGhost (Crom! Non-Sequitur = Pee Wee Herman.)
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To: LibWhacker

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

What’s REALLY important is the carbon signature of this thing. Until we know that, we won’t know how many offsets will be needed...


40 posted on 09/10/2007 1:00:09 PM PDT by 43north (I hope we are around long enough to become a layer in the rocks of the future.)
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To: LibWhacker

The bad news is it works just like the flux capaciter and requires 1.26 gigawatts to run.


41 posted on 09/10/2007 1:02:32 PM PDT by DungeonMaster (John 2:4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee?)
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To: SampleMan
2. A lot of braking power.

No, it wouldn't. They said that they would get you there in a week. Nothing about you being in any shape to ever come back. Just keep on accelerating until impact.

42 posted on 09/10/2007 2:50:14 PM PDT by PAR35
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To: Clioman
Anybody know how long a human can function under sustained multiple g-loads?

It wouldn't be a heavy g-load. The thruster produces 35 micronewtons. 1 micronewton is 1,000,000th of a newton. The g-load would be very low.
43 posted on 09/10/2007 2:51:43 PM PDT by JamesP81
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To: SamAdams76
So unless we can develop some kind of sophisticated radar that can allow our spacecraft to see these objects millions of miles away and automatically make slight corrections in course to avoid these tiny objects or unless we develop an exterior to the spacecraft that is impervious to collisions at high rates of speed, we are going to continue to be limited in how fast we can go in space.

There are only three solutions to the collision problem: deflector shields, sophisticated armor plating, or highly accurate and reliable weapons (probably lasers or particle beams) that can incinerate the objects. The weapons solution is likely unworkable; we're talking about having a computer system with a radar that can detect a tiny pebble from a million miles out, target, and fire on it before you run over it, correcting for lag imposed by the lightspeed barrier on your radar.
44 posted on 09/10/2007 2:55:18 PM PDT by JamesP81
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To: ShasheMac; brityank; Forest Keeper; swatbuznik; Potts Mtn. Pappy; Kevmo; wastedyears; ...

45 posted on 09/10/2007 6:30:57 PM PDT by KevinDavis (Mitt Romney 08)
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To: FReepaholic
If you wanted to start and stop at rest you would need to have your thrusters on for half the trip in one direction and then reverse direction for the second half.

In the simple case of a constant force (assuming a constant mass):

x(t) = x_0 + v_0t + 0.5 * a t² (x_0 and v_0 are assumed to be zero)
a = 2*x(halfway)/t² = 2*50e9 m/(3.5 days)² = 1.09 m/s²

This is about 1/9th of a g. If they had the capability to have 1 g of acceleration then the transit time would only be 56 hours (1/3 of a week).

46 posted on 09/10/2007 6:53:15 PM PDT by burzum (None shall see me, though my battlecry may give me away -Minsc)
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To: FReepaholic

Oh, I should also mention that since power equals force times velocity, it probably wouldn’t be feasible to be able to power the thrusters after the beginning of the trip so the initial forces will have to be much higher.


47 posted on 09/10/2007 7:00:53 PM PDT by burzum (None shall see me, though my battlecry may give me away -Minsc)
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To: burzum
Oh, I should also mention that since power equals force times velocity, it probably wouldn’t be feasible to be able to power the thrusters after the beginning of the trip so the initial forces will have to be much higher.

Err, I mean that the thrusters will have the same power applied, but will lose thrust the faster you go, so your initial thrust has to be much higher than the lower thrust (using the same power) later in the trip (because KE = 1/2 mv² and you have to pay 4 times the energy for every doubling of velocity).

48 posted on 09/10/2007 7:05:10 PM PDT by burzum (None shall see me, though my battlecry may give me away -Minsc)
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To: burzum
Ummmmm ... no.

Whatever mass you're kicking out of the back of the vehicle is accelerated relative to the vehicle. No matter how fast the vehicle is going, if the mass-flow-rate and the delta-v is the same, the thrust produced is the same and the energy cost is the same.

49 posted on 09/10/2007 7:13:29 PM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: LibWhacker

Once you go warp, you’ll never look back.


50 posted on 09/10/2007 7:14:44 PM PDT by toddlintown (Five bullets and Lennon goes down. Yet not one hit Yoko. Discuss.)
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