©2000 LTI
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

  • 1987 Prof. Leik Myrabo invents Lightcraft for SDIO.
  • 1997 First successful wire-guided tests at WSMR. Solved flight stability difficulties, much like the Wright brothers did with the airplane.
  • 1997 Lightcraft broke Goddard’s 41 ft., 1926 first successful rocket flight - but this time with no on-board fuel.
  • 1998 Record flight of 99 ft. with air breathing Lightcraft engine.
  • 1999 Record flight of 128 ft. with first rocket Lightcraft engine.
  • 2000 LTI sets new world record for highest flight (233 ft), longest flight time, and heaviest vehicle.