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Could a pure-electric laser-propelled space rocket be mere decades away?

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Mar26-11, 08:27 PM
P: 1,011
I know that there probably isn't a battery capable of making this practical yet, but if it were possible to store energy at a high enough density, wouldn't that make it theoretically possible to make a rocket that uses lasers powered by on-board batteries to accelerate a spaceship? I think in 20 or so years it's plausible that technology might get advanced enough for that.

Has this idea been entertained much, or are solar-sails seen as more practical? How dense would the energy storage have to be? I would assume that energy per mass densities much higher than chemical rockets would be necessary (unless if in the future this system means that there is a vast decrease of complexity of other systems involved in the regulation of the power plant). I think that ultimately it may prove superior. Imagine a spaceship that you could recharge with chemical-free refueling. The "light-fuel" could be transported at the speed of light, which you could not say for the fuel of a fusion rocket or an anti-matter rocket.

"Light-fuel" could even come in any color you wanted.
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Mar27-11, 06:55 AM
P: 777
Theoretically it would be possible, but the power density needed is DENSE. It would have to be at least nuclear if you want to get anywhere, and the laser (or even a flashlight) would have to be stupidly powerful, probably beyond all the flashlights and lasers currently on earth put together. Force from light is extremely low.

Nevertheless, theoretically it's doable.

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