oa South African Journal of Science - Laser propulsion activity in South Africa : review article

Volume 102, Issue 7-8
  • ISSN : 0038-2353
  • E-ISSN: 1996-7489



Three sets of laser propulsion experiments have been conducted in South Africa. The first, on the MLIS kilowatt CO<sub>2</sub> laser at Pelindaba, gave a surprisingly good result but could not be repeated after the laser chain was dismantled when South Africa's uranium isotope programme was closed. The second, conducted with a kilowatt CO<sub>2</sub> laser module, produced unexpectedly weak propulsion. We give reasons for the discrepancy between the two experiments. In the third experiment, hybrid solar and laser propulsion was tested: laser momentum coupling was enhanced as a result of generation of a dusty plasma by the concentrated solar energy.

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