Re: Lightcraft & launch costs

Hara Ra (
Sat, 22 Aug 1998 06:55:59 -0700

At 10:52 AM 8/14/98 -0400, Brian Atkins wrote:
>I saw this on tv last night:
>They claim it will reduce launch costs for small satellites
>by "several orders of magnitude" within something like 5
>But I can't find any exact figures. Does anyone have an idea
>of about how many dollars/pound (or kg) we are talking about
>here, and will this thing really make it possible for the
>average joe (or company) to have their own satellites?

Laser Focus World (a laser trade magazine) had a nice article on this project a few months ago. I don't recall any cost figures in that article. The web site mentioned above has more nice pictures, but less text than the LFW article.

I think 5 years is optimistic due to possible guidance problems, the little model has little or no manuvering capacity, and though there are methods for compensating for air turbulence, these are low power methods and I don't think they can be applied for high power IR lasers.

In the long term, this has great potential. LEO requires about 20Kwh/Kg, or about $2.60/Kg at my local PG&E ripoff rates. At 1% system efficiency, this is $260/Kg, definitely an improvement over the $3000/Kg for the Space Shuttle. (Note: IR CO2 lasers operate at about 15%, so we have a 15x fudge factor here)

As for average joe satellites, when costs get this low, orbits become a scarce resource, just as they are for geosynch slots right now. And such resources become by necessity regulated.....

| Hara Ra <> | 
| Box 8334 Santa Cruz, CA 95061  |
|                                |
| Death is for animals;          |
| immortality for gods.          |
| Technology is the means by     |

| which we make the transition. |