A Workable Photon Drive

From Daily Tech:

Dr. Young Bae of the Bae Institute definitely thinks outside the box when it comes to aerospace propulsion techniques.  Where others are thinking fuel, he’s thinking photons.

Last December, Dr. Young Bae unveiled a unique invention: the Photonic Laser Thruster (PLT) with an amplification factor of 3,000 in December, 2006.  The engine promised to provide a novel new means of transportation in space.

Word spread fast and before long Dr. Bae had visitors from some of aerospace’s strongest organizations–NASA JPL, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), and AFRL (Air Force Research Laboratory) –among others.

Dr. Franklin Mead, Senior Aerospace Engineer, and leading rocket scientist in laser and advanced propulsion at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) was quoted in Bae Institute press release as stating, “I attended Dr. Bae’s presentation about his PLT demonstration and measurement of photon thrust here at AFRL. It was pretty incredible stuff and to my knowledge, I don’t think anyone has done this before. It has generated a lot of interest around here.”

In the past, photons thrusters have been relegated to science fiction as they were considered too unpractical for modern space flight.  While such a device would have the advantage of nearly constant thrust, unlike a fuel rocket, photons have no mass so it could take years to equal the speed of traditional propulsion techniques.

I used to read about photon drives when I was a kid with my nose stuck into sci-fi magazines many, many moons ago. It seemed like a simple thing to invent. But I guess certain ideas are easier in theory than in engineering reality.

More often than not it’s money and politics. *sigh*

Original Article


6 responses

  1. Jerry Pournelle wrote about a launching laser concept back in the 1970s. This sounds eerily familiar to what he was proposing. Maybe I’ll do a follow up.

  2. Two words: Private Industry.

    This is a topic that is a thorn in my side. We’re still sending rockets into space the way we did 40 and 50 years ago. It’s impractical and not workable for deep space exploration.

    We must have new propulsion.

    I’d never heard of photon drives but I’m intrigued. My first reaction upon reading your blog entry was, “Quick, grab it before the military gets their paws on it.”

    You’re so very right, dad. If we wait, nothing will happen. The Bush administration is squandering $12 billion a month on credit in Iraq and it’s illogical to think the next administration would fund this technology.

    I say, let private industry have at it. I don’t even care if the Communist Chinese develop it — just do it, for Christ’s sake and move space exploration into the 21st century.

  3. Can’t think of a damned thing to say on this… isn’t that something?

    I’ll try again, later… guess you’ve got the last word FINALLY, Marine!


  4. Christopher: I show my libertarian side when I push for private enterprise to develop these new ideas. I’ve lamented over NASA’s failure to develop alternative propulsion systems longer than I’ve cared to count. We should’ve had colonies on the Moon by now, and certainly many missions to Mars too!

    The American public is certainly apathetic and could probably care less about space projects. At this point in time, the Chinese are going to be prime movers in space exploration and are going to get the jump on developing fusion power fuelled by helium3, which is abundant on the Moon.

    In the meantime, the American Federal Empire will continue it’s downward spiral fighting losing battles in the Middle East over declining oil resources. It’s a crying shame really. We had the future seized by the ass at one time. Now we’re a declining power due to the greed of a few. Pitiful.

    UH: Finally! But it is a technical subject, not philisophical! 😎

  5. Agreed.

    The United States is in decline. It’s like a dying elephant, slowly breathing its last breath. The people watching it know what’s taking place but, the elephant is unaware.

    The 21st century is all about China rising. China’s GDP is 10% and reminds me very much of the American economy shortly after the end of WWII.

    Unfortunately, we’re the largest debtor nation on earth; we owe so much money now that most economists agree we will never be able to pay it off. In every category of measurement, from health to infant mortality, education, the environment and quality of life, we’re losing ground. The pigs have been at the trough too long and we’re sent down.

    When I saw that the amount given to Israel in the form of foreign aide was larger than all of NASA’s budget, I had an epiphany moment and realized the next leap forward in space exploration won’t come from the United States — it will come from China.

    The US, if lucky will only get to go along for the ride.

  6. You can amplifie photonic stream, but whom you have ENERGY needed?… ( chenical, electric,nuclear-isotope?… probable: “ZERO-POINT [vacuum…] )…

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