GovBytes: NASA Exploring Power Beaming Technology

Government Computer News reports that NASA is investing in technology that will beam power up a spacecraft, eliminating the need for the use of a refueling ship. The project is called “Ride the Light.”

NASA wants to provide power to airborne spacecraft without having to use a refueling ship, instead beaming power to the craft via lasers or microwave energy.

The project, dubbed Ride the Light, aims to develop an inexpensive, modular power beaming capability to provide on-demand power for aerospace craft and other applications, according to the agency. In addition to seeking ways to beam power, the project also is exploring technologies that would allow the beamed power to be received.

This is another example of great projects that NASA is working on, although manned space flight has taken a temporary hiatus. The funding for this project comes from NASA’s Game Changing Technology Development Program. Government Computer News reports that “Ride the Light could be applied to “space propulsion, performance and endurance of unpiloted aerial vehicles or ground-to-ground power beaming applications.”

Interestingly, beaming power is not an entirely new concept. Computer Government News identified that in the 1980s several countries flew model aircraft powered by beamed microwave energy. Although beaming energy may be many years down the road, the technology holds great promise for space flight – and who knows, maybe will even help us address some of our energy challenges.

Anyone have any further information on this technology? Further examples? Would love to hear if anyone knows about the potential of this project.

NASA Ride the Light Project


“GovBytes” is a blog series created by GovLoop in partnership with Government Technology. If you see great a story on Gov Tech and want to ask a question around it, please send it to [email protected].

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