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TSC Demos Laser Propulsion Demonstration for Air Force

Photonics.com
Mar 2004
LOS ANGELES, March 11 -- Technology Service Corp. (TSC) announced it has completed the first demonstration of its coded optical power system (COPS) at the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles. This technology allows power to be delivered to remote systems via free space laser transmission with efficiencies approaching 50 percent while simultaneously transmitting data.

The demonstration supports the Space and Missile Systems Center's investigation of novel power concepts for micro/nano satellites and provides an initial benchmark for the development of new concepts in support of DARPA's space based power utility strategy. Although laser propulsion is not a new idea, the ability to provide power and data to micro/nano satellites is breakthrough technology.

"This demonstration is the first in a series initiated by the Air Force to look at distributed satellite utility in space," said Bill Floyd, Division Chief, Office of Development and Transformation, Space and Missile Systems Center. "This phase efficiently transferred laser energy that in turn could be used to power microsatellites."

The demonstration was novel in the way it was executed. Except for the transmitting laser, viewing window, one lens and the power converter, all of the support materials were purchased from a local hardware store. Precision optics and directing mirrors were not used. The demonstration took approximately 15 minutes to set up and was conducted on a conference table top.

The COPS was used to power a pulsed plasma thruster. For the demonstration, the COPS used an Apollo Instruments solid-state laser transmitter operating in a continuous wave mode at 808 nm with a power range of 10-30 watts. The COPS delivered more than five watts of electrical power at approximately 13 volts. The demonstration lasted approximately 30 minutes.

For more information, visit: www.tsc.com



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