Search
Menu
Photonics Handbook

In-Space Laser Power Beaming Experiment Enters Orbit

Facebook X LinkedIn Email
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 16, 2023 — The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) completed its launch of the Space Wireless Energy Laser Link (SWELL), an experiment to demonstrate laser power beaming in space as part of the scheduled U.S. Department of Defense Space Test Program H9 mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

SWELL is one of several experiments that launched aboard the SpaceX Dragon cargo vehicle to the ISS on March 14. The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft arrived at the ISS March 16.

SWELL is a yearlong mission that will collect data during a laser power beaming link in space conditions. The experiment, sponsored by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment and supported by the Operational Energy Capability Improvement Fund, will explore challenges for power beaming’s viability for space applications and also will highlight the possibilities for using power beaming to address energy challenges on Earth.

According to Paul Jaffe, electronics engineer and SWELL principal investigator, the experiment will specifically enable the members of the SWELL program team to identify focus areas for developing links of greater power and longer distance for space.

“By employing laser transmitters and photovoltaic receivers, power beaming links will be established that will pave the way for rapid, resilient, and flexible energy delivery systems,” Jaffe said.
During the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL's) Space Wireless Energy Laser Link (SWELL) experiment, power beaming links will be established, using laser transmitters and photovoltaic receivers, that will pave the way for rapid, resilient, and flexible energy delivery systems, Paul Jaffe, electronics engineer and SWELL principal investigator said. The experiment arrived at the Internatinal Space Station (ISS) March 16. Courtesy of the U.S. Navy via Jonathan Sunderman.
During the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s Space Wireless Energy Laser Link (SWELL) experiment, power beaming links will be established, using laser transmitters and photovoltaic receivers, that will pave the way for rapid, resilient, and flexible energy delivery systems, Paul Jaffe, electronics engineer and SWELL principal investigator, said. The experiment arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) March 16. Courtesy of U.S. Navy via Jonathan Sunderman.
Power beaming is a means of delivering energy in the form of electromagnetic waves that does not require the transport of mass, so energy can be sent almost instantly. Its feasibility and safety have been proven on the ground, and now these efforts are expanding to space.


“This is the next step in extending this capability for space, lunar, and planetary applications,” said Chris DePuma, SWELL program manager. “Power beaming is poised as a critical enabler for power distribution on the moon and elsewhere in space.”

According to the NRL, SWELL should provide data that shows how the hardware functions in the space environment, as well as which constraints are likely to affect the deployment of future operational systems. By eliminating the need for moving fuel or batteries or for stringing wires, SWELL could be a compelling option for the use of lunar resources and development on the moon.

“Power beaming might also be used for distributing power for and around Earth, including from satellites that collect solar energy in space,” Jaffe said.

Published: March 2023
Glossary
power
With respect to a lens, the reciprocal of its focal length. The term power, as applied to a telescope or microscope, often is used as an abbreviation for magnifying power.
spacepower beamingoptical power beamingsolar powerNASANRLU.S. NavyExtreme EnvironmentOpticscomponentswireless powerpowerenergy

We use cookies to improve user experience and analyze our website traffic as stated in our Privacy Policy. By using this website, you agree to the use of cookies unless you have disabled them.
Vision Spectra Conference 2024LIVE NOW: Contrast, Repeatability, and Protection: The Integral Role of Optical Filters in Machine Vision Systems X