Feeds

NASA: Beam me up some power, Scotty

Space boffins want to drive future craft by RAYGUN

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

NASA boffins are looking into making a science-fiction staple - the idea of transmitting power to spacecraft using lasers or microwaves - into reality.

Sending enough energy to replace commonly-used present day space propulsion via laser beam would be quite a feat. One of the most powerful lasers in the world that's capable of keeping a beam going for any length of time - Boeing's Airborne Laser Test Bed - can put out only a few megawatts of juice, but (according to El Reg's back-of-a-pint-coaster calculations) it takes about 190 gigawatts to power the first stage of a Saturn V rocket and 4.1GW to make a single Delta IV core rocket go.

But NASA is undeterred and, after giving the project the snazzy name of Ride the Light, has dished out around $3 million to a number of companies to investigate using beamed power by lasers and microwave energy.

The agency said in its statement:

This project will attempt to develop a low-cost, modular power beaming capability and explore multiple technologies to function as receiving elements of the beamed power.

This combination of technologies could be applied to space propulsion, performance and endurance of un-piloted aerial vehicles or ground-to-ground power beaming applications. Development of such capabilities fulfills NASA's strategic goal of developing high-payoff technology and enabling missions otherwise unachievable with today's technology.

Not content with riding the light, NASA has also handed over approximately $710,000 to US firm Amprius to help it develop a prototype battery that will work well in the extremely low temperatures of space. The company will look at manipulating both the silicon anodes and the electrolyte formulation to get the battery juicing up in the cold.

The financing for both products is being made through NASA's Game Changing Development Program, which looks for revolutionary technology for future missions. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
LOHAN Kickstarter breaks NINETEEN THOUSAND of your EARTH POUNDS
That's right, OVER 9,000 beer tokens - and counting
Major cyber attack hits Norwegian oil industry
Statoil, the gas giant behind the Scandie social miracle, targeted
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.