University of California, Santa Barbara
Project Moonbeam will develop a directed energy (DE) system capable of flexible power distribution for difficult-to-reach and mobile applications on the Moon. The modular directed energy system enables a wide variety of lunar mission profiles due its scalability and efficiency, made possible by the Moore’s Law-like exponential growth in photonics. The project goal is to create a “photonic extension cord,” beaming near-infrared directed energy laser light to distant assets, where it is converted into useful electricity by tuned high efficiency photovoltaics (PV). This technology ultimately enables electrification beyond 1km, such as tower-to-tower power beaming with distances exceeding 100km and power levels exceeding 10kW. The overall effort consists of: (1) the development of a high-efficiency low mass laser and laser PV converter, including thermal management/storage, (2) the design and construction of a high-fidelity laboratory demonstration system, including a 4π beam director and a fine pointing system for target locking, capable of field use and extendable to flight, and (3) a full >100We test.