Can Beamed Propulsion be a Viable Method to Reach Pluto?

• RobertGC
In summary, the conversation discusses the use of parabolic mirrors or Fresnel lenses to focus solar energy at long distances, specifically 31 AU away from Earth. This would be used for beamed energy propulsion without the use of lasers. However, it is not feasible to focus enough energy at such a distance, making this method unlikely.
RobertGC
The New Horizons results on Pluto are tantalizing. I was trying to come up with methods to get an orbiter or lander there. The problem is at a 31 AU distance from Earth solar power would only be 1/1000th as strong. However, with parabolic mirrors or Fresnel lenses we could focus a large amount of the light even very far away. A 10 square meter collecting area at Earth would collect 10,000 watts of solar energy. How much of this power could focus at 31 AU away?
This is beamed energy propulsion without using the laser. I wanted to avoid the laser so as to not have the problem of lofting the large mass needed for getting the high power laser to space.

Bob Clark

RobertGC said:
A 10 square meter collecting area at Earth would collect 10,000 watts of solar energy. How much of this power could focus at 31 AU away?

Very, very little. You cannot focus light down to a spot 31 AU's away. It will simply diffract and spread outwards.

1. How does beamed propulsion work?

Beamed propulsion is a method of propulsion that uses electromagnetic energy to propel a spacecraft. A powerful laser or microwave beam is directed at the spacecraft, which then absorbs the energy and converts it into thrust. This allows the spacecraft to reach very high speeds without carrying its own fuel.

2. What are the advantages of using beamed propulsion to reach Pluto?

One of the main advantages of using beamed propulsion to reach Pluto is that it allows for a faster journey. Without the need to carry fuel, the spacecraft can reach much higher speeds and therefore reach its destination in a shorter amount of time. Additionally, beamed propulsion is more efficient and less expensive than traditional rocket propulsion, making it a more viable option for long-distance space travel.

3. How far can beamed propulsion take us?

Beamed propulsion has the potential to take us to the edge of our solar system and beyond. With advancements in technology, it is possible that we could use beamed propulsion to send spacecraft to other star systems in the future.

4. What are the challenges of using beamed propulsion to reach Pluto?

One of the main challenges of using beamed propulsion to reach Pluto is the precision and accuracy required. The spacecraft must be able to accurately receive and convert the energy beam into thrust, as well as maintain its trajectory towards Pluto. Additionally, there are safety concerns surrounding the use of powerful energy beams in space.

5. How does beamed propulsion compare to other forms of propulsion for deep space travel?

Compared to traditional rocket propulsion, beamed propulsion offers a number of advantages for deep space travel, including faster speeds and increased efficiency. However, it also has its limitations and may not be suitable for all types of space missions. Other forms of propulsion, such as nuclear propulsion, may also be more suitable for certain missions. Ultimately, the choice of propulsion method depends on the specific goals and requirements of the mission.

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