Advanced Propulsion 
Photonic Laser Thruster (PLT) 
Credit: Y. K. BAE Corporation
Schematic Diagram of a Photonic Laser Thruster (PLT) Concept for Propelling Spacecraft in Space. 

Advanced Space Technologies: Advanced Propulsion
Bae Institute of Technology

Enabling Next Generation Space Exploration Endeavor

Photonic Laser Thruster (PLT) Enabling wide ranges of next generation space endeavors from launching spacecraft to near light speed to precision controlling spacecraft/satellite formation flying.

Our patent-pending Photonic Laser Thruster (PLT) is an innovative photon thruster that amplifies photon thrust by orders of magnitude by exploiting an active resonant optical cavity formed between two mirrors on paired spacecraft. PLT is predicted to be able to provide the thrust to power ratio (a measure of how efficient a thruster is in terms of converting power to thrust) approaching that of conventional thrusters, such as laser ablation thrusters and electrical thrusters. Yet, PLT has the highest specific impulse (a measure of how fast the fuel can propel spacecraft) orders of magnitude larger than that of other conventional thrusters. Recently, we have successfully demonstrated the photon thrust amplification in PLT for the first time in history with an amplification factor of 3,000. Scaling-up of PLT is highly promising, and PLT is predicted to enable wide ranges of next generation space endeavors. Low thrust (milli-Newton) PLTs enable nanometer precision spacecraft formation, for example Photon Tether Formation Flight (PTFF), for forming ultralarge space telescopes and radars. Medium thrust (Newton) PLTs enable precision propellantless orbit changing and docking. High thrust (greater than kilo-Newton) PLTs enable propelling spacecraft at speeds beyond hundreds km/sec. At such speeds, spacecraft could transit from Earth to Mars in less than one week.


  • Photonic Laser Propulsion (PLP): Photonic Laser Propulsion: Proof-of-Concept Demonstration, AIAA Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets vol. 45, pp 153-155 (2008) - PDF - (Archived)
  • Photonic Laser Thruster (PLT): Experimental Prototype Development and Demonstration,  AIAA-2007-6156,  Space 2007 Conference Proceedings - PDF - (Archived)
  • Photonic Laser Propulsion (PLP): Photon Propulsion Using an Active Resonant Optical Cavity, AIAA-2007-6131, Space 2007 Conference Proceedings - PDF - (Archived)
  • Photon Tether Formation Flight (PTFF) for Distributed and Fractionated Space Architectures, AIAA-2007-6084, Space 2007 Conference Proceeding - PDF - (Archived)

Nuclear Fusion Propulsion - Opening new doors in fusion propulsion - Conventional fusion schemes, such as magnetic fusion and heavy ion fusion are only the beginning for research that pushes the boundaries of such practical applications as advanced propulsion systems.

Bae Institute is dedicated to improving the efficiency of the conventional fusion schemes, such as magnetic fusion and heavy ion fusion for advanced propulsion applications. In particular, Bae Institute investigates the usage of cluster ions to increase the efficiency of heavy ion fusion based on the discovery by Dr. Bae and his colleagues in 1994, which showed the cluster ions produce dramatically enhanced compression compared with individual ions. (See the figure below).

Credit: Y. K. BAE Corporation

Controlled nuclear fusion is a model for supplying clean energy production and propulsion power for the next generation. Bae Institute is dedicated to researching that improves efficiencies of conventional nuclear fusion schemes, such as magnetic fusion, laser fusion and heavy ion fusion, particularly, heavy ion fusion.

Traditionally, heavy ion fusion has been connected to atomic ions. We propose the application of cluster ions to increase the efficiency of heavy ion fusion beyond current limits with a special beam. A cluster ion beam has potential to dramatically enhance both beam compression and beam energy deposition density by reducing the space charge effect.

SOURCE: Bae Institute of Technology

Related Material:

Patent Number: WO2007024655


Pub. No.:    WO/2007/024655 
International Application No.:    PCT/US2006/032266
Publication Date: 01.03.2007 
International Filing Date: 18.08.2006
IPC: B64G 1/00 (2006.01)
Applicant: BAE, Young, K. [US/US]; (US).
Inventor: BAE, Young, K.; (US).
Agent: JAFARI, David, V.; 801 N. PARKCENTER DRIVE, Suite 220, Santa Ana, CA 92705 (US).

Priority Data: 
60/710,544   23.08.2005   US
11/491,830   22.07.2006   US


The invention is a system and method for propellantless, ultrahigh precision satellite formation flying based on ultrahigh precision intracavity laser thrusters and tethers with an intersatellite distance accuracy of nanometers at maximum estimated distances of tens of kilometers. The repelling force of the intracavity laser thruster and the attracting force of tether tension between satellites form the basic forces to stabilize matrix structures of satellites. Users of the present invention can also use the laser thruster for ultrahigh precision laser interferometric metrology, resulting in simplification and payload weight reduction in integrating the thruster system and the metrology system.

Designated States: AE, AG, AL, AM, AT, AU, AZ, BA, BB, BG, BR, BW, BY, BZ, CA, CH, CN, CO, CR, CU, CZ, DE, DK, DM, DZ, EC, EE, EG, ES, FI, GB, GD, GE, GH, GM, HN, HR, HU, ID, IL, IN, IS, JP, KE, KG, KM, KN, KP, KR, KZ, LA, LC, LK, LR, LS, LT, LU, LV, LY, MA, MD, MG, MK, MN, MW, MX, MY, MZ, NA, NG, NI, NO, NZ, OM, PG, PH, PL, PT, RO, RS, RU, SC, SD, SE, SG, SK, SL, SM, SV, SY, TJ, TM, TN, TR, TT, TZ, UA, UG, US, UZ, VC, VN, ZA, ZM, ZW.
African Regional Intellectual Property Org. (ARIPO) (BW, GH, GM, KE, LS, MW, MZ, NA, SD, SL, SZ, TZ, UG, ZM, ZW)
Eurasian Patent Organization (EAPO) (AM, AZ, BY, KG, KZ, MD, RU, TJ, TM)
European Patent Office (EPO) (AT, BE, BG, CH, CY, CZ, DE, DK, EE, ES, FI, FR, GB, GR, HU, IE, IS, IT, LT, LU, LV, MC, NL, PL, PT, RO, SE, SI, SK, TR)
African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) (BF, BJ, CF, CG, CI, CM, GA, GN, GQ, GW, ML, MR, NE, SN, TD, TG).
Publication Language: English (EN)
Filing Language: English (EN) 

SOURCE: WIPO - WO2007024655

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