Advanced propulsion concepts study: Comparative study of solar electric propulsion and laser electric propulsion


Solar electric propulsion (SEP) and laser electric propulsion (LEP) was compared. The LEP system configuration consists of an 80 kW visible laser source on earth, transmitting via an 8 m diameter adaptively controlled phased array through the atmosphere to a 4 m diameter synchronous relay mirror that tracks the LEP spacecraft. The only significant change in the SEP spacecraft for an LEP mission is the replacement of the two 3.7 m by 33.5 m solar cell arrays with a single 8 m diameter laser photovoltaic array. The solar cell array weight is decreased from 320 kg to 120 kg for an increase in payload of 200 kg and a decrease in specific mass of the power system from 20.5 kg/kW to 7.8 kg/kW

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