Rockets used to launch satellites and spacecraft into space require a lot of high-energy fuel. Much of the storage space of the rockets is forced to be dedicated to their fuel supply. Almost 85%–90% of the mass of a rocket is propellant.
A better fuel can make putting satellites in space less expensive
Researchers from the University of Tsukuba and Nagoya University in Japan plans to use microwaves to launch rockets. Microwave beams can be used to power the rockets from the ground.
This intriguingly unusual idea can prove to be a game-changer in space technology. It can significantly reduce the cost of launching rockets while maximizing the payloads and increasing the feasibility of space missions.
The team used microwaves with a relatively high frequency (28 GHz) to power a small drone while it was in the air. The drone weighed just 0.4 kilograms only, which is less than a pound. The drone hovered to an altitude of 800 centimeters above the source of the microwave beam for just 30 seconds only. Though the overall power transmission efficiency of the experiment was just 0.43 percent, the team still managed to keep the drone aloft.
It’s too early for this technique but the microwave tech show promise. It might take a decade or more before microwave power can be actually used for the propulsion of rockets.