Aerospace laser jet engine

Aerospace laser jet engine prototype
for flight experiments

Aerospace laser jet engine

Aerospace laser jet engine prototype
on a pad under action
of a 2 laser single pulse

Aerospace laser jet engine

Photo of a light trace followed a vehicle
with the laser jet engine prototype
taken with long exposure


Laser jet engines (LJE) present a new class of engines suitable for application in design of such vehicles as high-altitude robot planes, carrier rockets and spacecrafts. LJE can be used to transfer a spacecraft from a low near-earth orbit onto a geostationary orbit, to correct the spacecraft orbit and its orientation.

An idea to apply the laser propulsion in aircraft is under development since the early 70th. The main peculiarity and one of the advantages of the laser propulsion as compared to the conventional methods of jet propulsion generation is that it is drawn owing to energy of a distant source. This results in small weight and allows one to increase considerably the useful carrying capacity of a vehicle.

The laser propulsion features a high specific impulse as compared with the conventional jet propulsion at sufficiently high values of propulsion.

An aerospace laser jet engine (ALJE) is under development in NII OEP. Patent of the RF N2266420 is hold. Experiments on demonstration flight of a vehicle equipped with the aerospace laser jet engine prototype have been successfully carried out.

Demonstration experiments with the prototype with total weight of 150 g moving along an inclined path showed the following performances:

  • Max propulsion - 1.5 N
  • Max vehicle speed - 5 m/s
  • Max vehicle acceleration - 5 m/s2
  • Max specific recoil momentum - 25 dyn/W at average power of laser radiation of 5 kW

At present the following works are conducted in NII OEP:

  • Development of jet nozzles and optical concentrators of laser radiation
  • Research into physical-chemical processes in interaction between laser radiation and different matters with chemical composition
  • Studies on gas-dynamic processes of propulsion generation in laser-chemical jet engines

 Video (avi, 370 k)