China’s first state key laboratory of laser propulsion and its applications inaugurated
By Dong Liyuan and Zhang Xiaoqi
China’s first state key laboratory of laser propulsion and its applications was inaugurated in the Armaments Academy of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on December 7, 2012, marking China has made a stride in exploring new-type highly-efficient aerospace propulsion technology research.
According to Hong Yanji, director of the laboratory, the laser propulsion is a new-concept propulsion technology in providing power to aero-craft. The technology boasts multiple advantages including high specific impulse, big payload ratio and low launching cost, and can be applied to a wide range of fields such as launching near-earth-orbit microsatellites, clearing debris in the orbits of the earth, and microsatellite attitude and orbit control, etc.
When launching near-earth-orbit satellites, the laser propulsion technology cuts down the launching cost to hundreds of US dollars per kilogram, far lower than that of the current chemical rockets which may cost tens of thousands of US dollars per kilogram.
The laboratory is currently engaged in research in basis for laser propulsion application, plasm flow control and propulsion technology, and propulsion flow field test and diagnosis techniques, etc.