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starship-design: Re: Lightcraft

In a message dated 1/22/98 2:38:36 PM, stephen.harley@dial.pipex.com wrote:

>I wonder if this helps any, there was an article in a british science journal
>called the New Scientist in Jan this year which discribed some work being
>done at HELSTF in America on what are called lightcraft. The system
>is in the very early stages of being flight tested. It uses Lasers to turn
>explosively turn air into a kind of plasma which provides propulsion.
>If you haven't heard of it before I can write a quick summary for you,
>however from my very rough calculations to move a starship the size
>of your proposed Exlporer class with an inital acceleration of 2m/s per
>second you'd need a laser capable of 100,000 Gigawatt pulses, the best
>laser I've heard of can do 1MW.
>But then in fifty years time who knows how far this work may have advanced.

One of the ideas I had for the Exploer class designs fuel launchers was
similar to that.  But yeah the lasers would need to be massive!

It might be doing it the hard way, but the design has promise as a surface to
orbit launcher.