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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1999 > Apr > Apr 28

Space Travel: NASA Designs Flying Saucer

From: Stig Agermose <stig.agermose@get2net.dk>
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 05:27:54 GMT
Fwd Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 09:38:31 -0400
Subject: Space Travel: NASA Designs Flying Saucer

Source: The Sunday Times.



Sunday April 25 1999


Space travel

The laser-guided spaceship will fuel rumours of access to alien
technology, says Sean Hargrave

Nasa designs flying saucer


IT LOOKS like something out of a 1950s science-fiction film -
Nasa is building a flying saucer.

The agency is experimenting with the design because the saucer
shape has obvious aerodynamic benefits. Tests on a tiny craft
that weighs just 25g have been successful and wind-tunnel tests
on a larger prototype are taking place. The envisaged test
spaceship would measure 16ft across and carry four people.

Nasa is working on the principle that craft that are as at home
in space as in our own atmosphere will need a helping hand
before getting beyond the pull of gravity. Rather than rely on
tanks of rocket fuel, the agency is exploring means of
transmitting power to ships from the ground to reduce weight -
hence a saucer-shaped craft propelled into space by a laser

The concept is not as radical as it sounds. It had been mooted
as a means of launching satellites several years before
Professor Leik Myrabo of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in
New York State began toying with the notion in the 1970s. He has
since proved the concept and is working on a prototype flying
saucer for Nasa and the US Air Force.

In practice this will mean a spaceship guided from Earth by a
powerful laser. When the craft reaches the edge of the
atmosphere, and the lifting power of the laser dwindles, the
energy source will be used to heat an on-board store of hydrogen
fuel. It is expected that by the time the laser makes the switch
from acting as a propellant to heating the hydrogen, the ship
will be on the brink of the atmosphere, travelling at more than
five times the speed of sound.

The on-board fuel source would then be used to enter space. It
would not need to carry huge fuel tanks filled with liquid
oxygen simply to break free of gravitational pull.

The shape of the prototype craft has a "shroud" around its lower
side that focuses the laser light on a point on the underside of
the saucer. This superheats and combusts the air there, making
it act as a jet exhaust that propels the craft into the air.

Tests have so far been encouraging. Myrabo has managed to propel
his tiny prototype to almost 100ft. A more powerful laser is to
be built to expand the test. He surmises that a 1 gigawatt laser
would be needed to get a full-size craft into space.

Wind-tunnel tests on a scale model of the 16ft-wide craft have
started and further experiments of the laser-based propulsion
system are due to take place later this year. A final craft is
not expected to be rolled out for several years.

After meetings with other aeronautical engineers, Myrabo is
predicting a second, even more futuristic saucer design. It
could be equipped with microwave receivers so that power could
be transmitted to the craft from an orbiting satellite when it
is in space.

The ambitious project would require a satellite to capture solar
energy and turn it into a microwave beam that would be beamed to
the flying saucer. As with the ground-based laser system,
reflectors on the craft would focus the microwaves on the side
of the craft opposite to the intended direction of travel. The
system could be beamed down to Earth to help launch the craft.

"My goal has been to cut the cost of getting to space by a
factor of 1,000 using a system that is completely green
[environmentally friendly]," Myrabo says.

"The system would require a fully mature infrastructure to
support these vehicles, but it could bring about an era of
airline-like space travel on highways of light."

A project involving flying saucers is bound to create
controversy among the conspiracy theorists who claim that the
American government is basing future spacecraft design on
captured alien flying saucers. However, Nasa dismisses such
talk. It says: "It's wrong to liken these designs to UFOs
because these are certainly identifiable."

Copyright 1998 Times Newspapers Ltd. This service is provided on
Times Newspapers' standard terms and conditions. To inquire
about a licence to reproduce material from The Times, visit the
Syndication website.

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