Launch | Range safety and objects in beam path
The radiative flux on an object such as a bird, airplane, or spacecraft moving through the beam would be about the same as the output energy flux at the beamer, or 100 kw/m2 – about two orders of magnitude above sunlight on Earth. This is hazardous to birds with respect to both temperature and eye damage. For aircraft and satellites, this is also hazardous with respect to heating as well as sensor blinding.
There are two approaches to mitigating this risk: administrative (warnings) and an ‘active failsafe interlock perimeter detection system’. This system consists of visible light-, radar-, and laser-based air-scanning modes. These systems are so arranged as to have buffer zones (no fly zones) of several minutes of flight time for the average object in each flight regime (birds, airplanes, spacecraft). It could be ensured that we several minutes’ clearance was given prior to any beaming. Before commencement of launch operations, all incoming objects would be tracked. The main emitter could be turned off extremely rapidly (sub-microsecond response); so that once a prediction were made of a violation of the no fly zone, the mission could be aborted.
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