Laser power can be transformed into propulsive power to set into motion various kinds of vehicles and other objects on the surface, in the air and in space. The transformation process can occur indirectly, for instance by producing electricity via photovoltaic cells or thermal power. Another possibility is the generation of impulses by the ablation of matter from a solid body, or by the initiation of a high-pressure plasma breakdown wave in a fluid medium. Applications range from driving remotely powered roving vehicles to various kinds of thrusters for space propulsion. The direct thrust of the laser photon flux can be used for the propulsion of laser sailcrafts. Applications in space range from micropropulsion for satellite attitude control in the near-term to futuristic interstellar travel driven by photon propulsion. Other propulsive applications in space concern the change of orbits of objects like man-made orbital debris as well as of large objects (asteroids, comets) for protection of Earth against disastrous impacts.
Wolfgang O. Schall,
"Propulsion by laser power", Proc. SPIE 5777, XV International Symposium on Gas Flow, Chemical Lasers, and High-Power Lasers, (23 March 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.611340; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.611340