Laser propulsion 10-kw thruster test program results

J. Black, H. Krier, R. J. Glumb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article summarizes the results of the first-ever experimental tests of a 10-kW laser-powered rocket engine. The rocket engine used high-temperature laser-sustained plasmas to heat flows of argon and hydrogen propellants, which were then exhausted through a rocket nozzle to generate thrust. The design of the thruster and test support equipment is described in detail, followed by a summary of performance data, particularly specific impulse and thruster efficiency. Specific impulse values of up to 350 s at efficiencies near 40% were obtained using hydrogen propellant. A low-velocity stability limit for laser-sustained plasmas was also discovered, which may have important implications for the design of future laser propulsion systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1307-1316
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Propulsion and Power
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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