[ExI] Laser propulsion for power sats--objections

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Tue Feb 19 23:06:08 UTC 2013

I asked and got permission to post a bit from a discussion on another
mailing list


>> I have thought about this for a long time now.  If China decides to
>> solve their energy and carbon problems (which affect the rest of the
>> world) and they decide to do it with power satellites using propulsion
>> lasers instead of say, nuclear reactors, what is can other nations do
>> about it?
> umm....  they can say "don't do it or we will blow you off the face of the
> earth"

They announced they were going to do it last Nov. 2.  I suppose if we
are going to tell them to stop, we should do it now.

I can't guarantee that they intend to use lasers powered by their
first power satellite, but the physics and economics are
overwhelmingly favorable to doing that way.

> put it the other way - the united states decides to put lasers in orbit that
> can
> vaporize anything on the surface on a moments notice and nobody can do
> anything about it?  I think that project ever happens?  like, Russia and

I don't see them freaking out about Predator drones and Hellfire
missiles.  Those will kill people every bit as dead as a propulsion
laser beam.  But if the US wanted to build propulsion lasers, I don't
see what other countries could do about it.  Of course the US would
claim to be a good guy and never abuse the power, not to mention
selling power satellites to all who wanted them.

> don't see that as a problem?  Yes, the see it as a huge problem.

Do you really think other countries would start a preemptive nuclear
war with the US over this?  (Not that the US is likely to build
propulsion lasers unless someone like China was already doing it.)

>> In fact, given the dire predictions about global climate
>> effects of more CO2, do they even want to complain?
> yes, they want to complain.  lets look at the DoD budget - lets look at the
> budget for CO2 mitigation.  lets look at the % of congress who will buy into
> "lasers in the sky are bad unless they are ours" vs. the % that are
> cap and trade and other CO2 mitigation?
> Seriously, nobody likes the sword of damocles hanging over their heads,
> operated by someone who they are placing aircraft carriers against......
> We almost went to war over this in the past:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOBS
The article says the USSR deployed them and the US came up with
counters making the value of them marginal.

>> Consider http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wenchang_Satellite_Launch_Center
>> at 111 deg E as the launch point.  For laser assist to LEO, the laser
>> should be located over a point ~2000 km to the east or ~129 deg E.
>> Darwin in Australia is at 130 deg E.  No part of the US is visible
>> from that location at GEO except the Hawaiian Islands and some
>> uninhabited US islands, Baker, Howland and Jarvis.  Australia, all of
>> south east Asia, Japan and India are in view.
>> The Chinese have offered to build power satellites with India.
>> They could do the same with Japan.  Japan's recent experience with
>> Fukushima Daiichi has left them desperate for an energy solution.
>> Before the tsunami Japan had the most advanced plans in the world for
>> power satellites.
>> I don't know how the Chinese would cope with the complaints of the
>> other south east Asia countries or Australia if they build power sats
>> using propulsion lasers.  I suppose they could make the point that
>> they already have enough nukes to do more damage than a laser would
>> inflict.
> these political dimensions define what is possible, just as much as
> dimensions do.   International consortium are a possibility for something
> this, but the trust between nations is very unlikely to allow it, in my
> opinion.....

Well, though they might not have understood exactly what was being
proposed, it looks to me like the Indians accepted the offer to
jointly build power satellites.

One of the consequences of power satellites is that offshore oil no
longer matters.  (Synthetic is way cheaper.)


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