Laetitia Garriott – Co-founder, President, and COO, Escape Dynamics
The technology that Escape Dynamics is developing has the potential to seriously push the cost of LEO launches.
Here’s the basics design: A winged body with a rocket cone on the back, short wings, and a shiny plate on the bottom. The plate is a heat exchanger which absorbs microwaves beamed from the surface of the planet. That powers the hydrogen fueled rocket engine all the way from launch to space. This is the key technology. The fuel load needed for launch is much less, there is no damage from a violent reaction such as a chemical rocket has. The plane takes off vertically just as other rockets, gets to LEO to release the payload, returns to orbit using the heat exchanger as the primary heat shield, the lands horizontally like a plane. Ideally, there is an inspection of the spacecraft then it can be ready for relaunch in a short time.
Some of my first thoughts: What happens to the payload with all those microwaves being beamed onto the craft? (faraday cage) Can this energy transfer tech be used for other uses such as powering electronics on a smaller scale? (probably) What technologies have been proven so far? YES
The microwave dishes will need to track the fast moving target (spacecraft). A small drone has been tracked successfully at lower power. This drone had a small LED on the bottom which was powered by the dish.
The biggest part of this puzzle is the heat exchange. This was tested and seems to have been successful as well.
My personal opinion is that this tech could prove to be extremely successful. I would bet on this if I could!