Propelling spacecraft simulator with pure laser light

Research engineers have successfully propelled a 450 g spacecraft simulator with pure laser light using Photonic Laser Thruster (PLT) technology.

Photonic Laser ThrusterEngineering.com reports a high-reflector (HR) mirror mounted on a gliding platform was successfully propelled along a 2 m frictionless air track, simulating zero gravity. Photons bounced back and forth several hundred times between two mirrors producing a thrust of up to 1.1 mN.

Sliding down the track, the mirror was propelled toward a rubber band. Once reaching the band, the object was bounced back towards the source of the photons.

Upon approaching the source, the object slowed to a full stop before moving away again, back toward the rubber band.

Watch the experiment in the video below.

To learn more, click here.

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