Ride the Light comprises two projects:
- The Millimeter-wave Thermal Launch System (MTLS) is a small payload launch system capable of lifting 230+ kilogram payloads to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). MTLS beams energy from the ground onto the launch vehicle to provide the motive energy. A reference design has been produced which defines a production MTLS system which can be constructed now using no advance in technology.
- LightForce is a novel way of preventing collisions in orbit using photon pressure alone, applied from a ground-based laser. By “nudging” debris out of the way of a collision, it could slow or prevent the orbital debris cascade taking place in LEO and provide protection for satellites that lack on-board propulsion. LightForce is much cheaper than other space debris remediation concepts and - critically - unlike debris removal systems LightForce cannot be employed as a weapon. The ultimate goal of LightForce is to ensure a sustainable LEO environment for all nations. In 2012, the LightForce international collaboration will focus on detailed simulation and demonstration of key technologies.