Microwave-powered rocket propulsion investigated

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Sending a rocket into area sometimes requires about 90% of the rocket’s preliminary weight to be gasoline. This limitation could possibly be overcome by wirelessly transmitting the wanted energy to the rocket by a beam of microwave radiation. A analysis crew from Japan has investigated the viability of utilizing such microwave-powered propulsion for real-world functions.

In a research printed this month within the Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, researchers led by the College of Tsukuba have demonstrated wi-fi energy transmission by way of microwaves for a free-flying drone and decided the effectivity of this course of.

Earlier analyses of this type had been carried out a long time in the past and principally thought-about microwaves of a low frequency (a number of gigahertz; GHz). Provided that the facility transmission effectivity will increase because the working frequency is raised, the crew behind this newest analysis used microwaves with a comparatively excessive frequency (28 GHz). The crew’s drone weighed roughly 0.4 kilograms and hovered for 30 seconds at a peak of 0.8 meters above the supply of the microwave beam.

“We used a complicated beam-tracking system to make sure that the drone acquired as a lot of the microwave energy as attainable,” says Kohei Shimamura, lead writer of the research. “Furthermore, to additional enhance the transmission effectivity, we fastidiously tuned the part of the microwaves utilizing an analog part shifter that was synchronized with GPS models.”

The researchers measured the efficiencies of the facility switch by the beam (4%), the seize of microwaves by the drone (30%), the conversion of microwaves to electrical energy for propulsion (40%), and different related processes. Based mostly on this info and an analytical formulation, they calculated the general energy transmission effectivity of their experiment to be 0.43%. For comparability, in a earlier research, the crew measured the full transmission effectivity for a fixed-position (relatively than free-flying) drone to be 0.1%.

“These outcomes present that extra work is required to enhance the transmission effectivity and completely consider the feasibility of this propulsion method for plane, spacecraft, and rockets,” explains Shimamura. “Future research also needs to goal to refine the beam-tracking system and enhance the transmission distance past that demonstrated in our experiment.”

Though microwave-powered rocket propulsion continues to be in its early phases, it might sometime turn out to be a superior option to launch rockets into orbit given the excessive onboard-fuel calls for of standard propulsion strategies.


Can high-power microwaves scale back the launch price of space-bound rockets?


Extra info:
Satoru Suganuma et al, 28 GHz Microwave-Powered Propulsion Effectivity for Free-Flight Demonstration, Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets (2021). DOI: 10.2514/1.A35044

Offered by
College of Tsukuba


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Microwave-powered rocket propulsion investigated (2021, July 26)
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