Although the laser was not yet invented Eugen Saenger, one of the most prominent German personalities in the early development of rocket science and technology suggested to use photons for the propulsion of spacecrafts in the fifties. In contrast to current schemes which are basically aimed at laser induced ablation processes, Eugen Saenger started with the idea of using the radiation pressure itself for propulsion purposes. A review of his pioneering work in that area will be supported by numerous historical documents and personal remembrance showing his effort to promote unconventional ideas. The paper also emphasizes how some of the original concepts are being revisited and partly implemented by using today’s laser technology.
Willy L. Bohn, Willy L. Bohn,
"Propulsion by light: a tribute to the German pioneer Eugen Saenger (Plenary Paper)", Proc. SPIE 5448, High-Power Laser Ablation V, (20 September 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.548453; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.548453