Laser power beaming experiment passes 100 days of of on-orbit operationNews
July 13, 2023
WASHINGTON. The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Space Wireless Energy Laser Link (SWELL) passed 100 days of successful on-orbit laser operations on June 29, 2023, with the NRL calling the experiment "the first successful instance of laser power beaming in space."
SWELL -- which resides on the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Space Test Program (STP) H9 mission -- has been providing nearly continuous levels of about 1.5 watts at the power beaming receiver’s output with an end-to-end efficiency around 11%, more than ten times the team’s efficiency goal, with a power beaming link distance of 1.45 meters.
Chris DePuma, SWELL program manager, stated: “This is the first step towards addressing the challenges of implementing power beaming links for lunar exploration and other applications.”
According to the news release, power beaming delivers energy via electromagnetic waves, thereby eliminating the need for wires or the transport of batteries or fuel in the difficult environment of space; the waves enable energy to be sent at the speed of light. NRL officials expect that the experiment will continue to provide data for about a year to help identify challenges and insights for future power beaming systems.