©2009 LTI

Beamed energy propulsion, when successfully deployed, will first fill a crucial void in boosting small vehicles of 1- to 10 kg into space. Subsequently, BEP technology will spur a development race to launch ever larger vehicles (e.g., 10- to 100 kg), as the power-beaming infrastructure is "grown" simply by linking multiple, near-identical components into the system--i.e., more beam sources tied to larger phased-array transmitters. Soon, BEP launchers will loft 100- to 1000 kg vehicles to space, at first complementing and then de facto replacing traditional boosters supplied by the chemical rocket industry.

Because today's multistage rocket launchers carry a bulky chemical energy on board, payload fractions are only 3- to 4% of the gross liftoff mass. In contrast, single-stage-to-orbit BEP launchers leave their power source at the launch pad, which enables payload fractions of 25- to 50%. And whereas $10,000 to $20,000 US/kg to LEO is the norm for chemical boosters, ultra-energetic BEP technology promises to cut launch costs at least 10-fold for nano- and micro-satellites.

Additionally, other technologies involved in the development and launching of LightCraft will lead to an array of new products and services with applications outside of the LTI program. Such spin-off technology products will produce their own revenue and value-added streams for LTI.