Aerospace laser ignition/ablation variable high precision thruster

A laser ignition/ablation propulsion system that captures the advantages of both liquid and solid propulsion. A reel system is used to move a propellant tape containing a plurality of propellant material targets through an ignition chamber. When a propellant target is in the ignition chamber, a laser beam from a laser positioned above the ignition chamber strikes the propellant target, igniting the propellant material and resulting in a thrust impulse. The propellant tape is advanced, carrying another propellant target into the ignition chamber. The propellant tape and ignition chamber are designed to ensure that each ignition event is isolated from the remaining propellant targets. Thrust and specific impulse may by precisely controlled by varying the synchronized propellant tape/laser speed. The laser ignition/ablation propulsion system may be scaled for use in small and large applications.
Inventors: 

David L. Edwards, Jonathan W. Campbell, Jason J. Campbell

Patent Number: 
US9021782
Patent Issue Date: 
June 5, 2015
Agency
NASA
Region
Southeast
State: 
Alabama
Phone: 
256-544-9151
Email: 
terry.taylor@nasa.gov
Lab Representatives
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