What is a Lightcraft?
A Lightcraft is a 1kg launch vehicle, made from high temperature ceramic materials, that flies into space on a megawatt laser beam.
The Lightcraft, shown here in flight, is both a single-stage-to-orbit launch vehicle and a satellite.
How does it work?
A ground based laser is the power source that propels the Lightcraft into orbit. Lightcraft can deliver payloads into space for a fraction of the cost of traditional rockets because most of the engine stays on the ground, thereby unburdening the craft from having to lift the energy source for its propulsion system.
The back side of the craft is a large, highly polished parabolic mirror that is designed to capture the laser beam projected at it from the ground. The mirror focuses the beam, rapidly heating the air to 5 TIMES the temperature of the sun, creating a blast wave out the back that pushes the vehicle upward. As the beam is rapidly pulsed, the vehicle is continuously propelled forward, on its way to orbit.
History of Lightcraft