Bae’s Photonic Laser Thruster (PLT) demonstration produced a photon thrust of 35 uN, which is sufficient for several space missions currently envisioned, and is scalable to achieve much greater photon thrust for future space missions. Applications for PLT 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 greater than 100 km/sec.
Bae, looking forward with anticipation, observes, “This is the tip of the iceberg. 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.” Several aerospace players have expressed intent to collaborate with the Bae Institute to further develop and integrate PLT into civilian, military, and commercial space systems.
With NASA going back to the moon and then to Mars, PLT devices being developed with partial funding from NIAC (NASA Institute of Advanced Concepts), and numerous private space ventures (SpaceX, Google-sponsored Lunar X-PRIZE), it’s a great time to be alive. I’m excited to see what the next few decades of science and technology will bring!