25 May 1994 Free-electron laser power beaming to satellites at China Lake, California
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Abstract
Laser power beaming of energy through the atmosphere to a satellite can extend its lifetime by maintaining the satellite batteries in operating condition. An alternate propulsion system utilizing power beaming will also significantly reduce the initial insertion cost of these satellites, which now are as high as $DLR72,000/lb for geosynchronous orbit. Elements of the power beaming system are a high-power laser, a large diameter telescope to reduce diffractive losses, an adaptive optic beam conditioning system and possibly a balloon or aerostat carrying a large mirror to redirect the laser beam to low earth orbit satellites after it has traversed most of the earth's atmosphere vertically. China Lake, California has excellent seeing, averages 260 cloud-free days/year, has the second largest geothermal plant in the United States nearby for power, groundwater from the lake for cooling water, and is at the center of one of the largest restricted airspaces in the United States. It is an ideal site for such a laser power beaming system. Technological challenges in building such a system and installing it at China Lake will be discussed.
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Harold E. Bennett, Harold E. Bennett, John D. G. Rather, John D. G. Rather, Edward E. Montgomery, Edward E. Montgomery, } "Free-electron laser power beaming to satellites at China Lake, California", Proc. SPIE 2118, Gas, Metal Vapor, and Free-Electron Lasers and Applications, (25 May 1994); doi: 10.1117/12.176663; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.176663
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