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Hexapod in Proof of Concept for High-Speed Interstellar Travel with Directed Energy

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The velocity of present-day spacecraft may seem galactic in contrast to what humans experience in their daily commutes involving even the fastest trains, planes or automobiles. However, compared to the warp-drive performance known from science fiction classics such as Star Trek and Star Wars, space travel in the early 21th century still moves at a rather glacial pace.

The UCSB Experimental Cosmology Group, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, headed by Professor Philip Lubin, is working hard to change that. They are exploring a concept of a new drive system that could accelerate a small spacecraft close to the speed of light. Their research is grounded in physics and funded by NASA DEEP-IN and DEIS Directed Energy for Interstellar Flight programs, as well as NASA Spacecgrant and the Emmett and Gladys W. Fund.

The idea involves laser light as the driving force. The model uses a PI H-824 hexapod 6-axis positioning platform, carrying a 19 element laser phased array. Hexapod (Stewart-Gough) platforms provide motion in 6 degrees of freedom along with a user-programmable pivot point in a small envelope.

UCSB 19 element protoype laser phased array on a H-824 PI hexapod pointing platform that is a 1/4 scale model of one of the basic building blocks of the large kilometer class laser phased array needed to drive a small spacecraft to relativistic speeds needed for the first interstellar missions. (Image credit: UCSB Experimental Cosmology Group, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106)
UCSB 19 element protoype laser phased array on a H-824 PI hexapod pointing platform that is a 1/4 scale model of one of the basic building blocks of the large kilometer class laser phased array needed to drive a small spacecraft to relativistic speeds needed for the first interstellar missions. (Image credit: UCSB Experimental Cosmology Group, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106)

 

More information:

> More articles on hexapods

> More aerospace / astronomy related articles

> Hexapod product overview

 

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About PI

PI (Physik Instrumente) is a leading manufacturer of precision motion control equipment, piezo motors, air bearing stages and hexapod parallel-kinematics for semiconductor applications, photonics, bio-nano-technology and medical engineering. PI has been developing and manufacturing standard & custom precision products with piezoceramic and electromagnetic drives for 4 decades. The company has been ISO 9001 certified since 1994 and provides innovative, high-quality solutions for OEM and research. PI is present worldwide with fifteen subsidiaries, R&D / engineering on 3 continents and total staff of more than 1,000.

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