Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Light powered 'plane

Not suitable for people who don't like bright lights
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First, you put a satelite/airship/ionocraft in orbit/high up and cover it with a complex array or mirrors. A few giant ones to get a large input of sunlight, then concentrate it and send it down... Our lightplane has no wings, or discernable engines. Just a saucer shaped fuselage surrounded by more mirros (let's hope mirror prices fall soon). To take off, the array in the upper atmosphere/space directs concentrated sunlight down to the 'plane's mirrors, and it is directed beneath it. The heat from the light beam heats up the air, turns it into plasma and causes it to expand rapidly. The 'plane takes off in good ol' VTOL style. When it is high enough, a few mirrors turn, directing some of the heat behind the craft forcing it forward. Yet more mirrors push light ahead of the craft to create an 'air spike' of heated air to substitute for streamlining. After it gets across the atlantic (switching between various sattelites, ionocraft and airships) easily outstripping the last few concordes, the plasma air is directed in front of it, slowing it to a halt above the airport. Then riding its cushion of plasma, it drops slowly onto the heavily shielded landing platform.
Cats Whiskers, Oct 06 2003

Wikipedia: Beam-powered propulsion http://en.wikipedia...sion#Direct_Impulse
[jutta, Mar 01 2008]

[link]






       So, basicly a light powered ramjet?   

       "I'm sorry, passagers, but your going to have to sit tight while we try to land beneath these pesky clouds..."
my-nep, Oct 12 2004
  

       Well.. given that the intensity of light is very high.. I doubt you would worry about such things as clouds.
Cats Whiskers, Oct 12 2004
  

       It's been done. A Laser shot from the ground straight up made a small silver saucer fly. It was part of the project to make the space elevator work. They had trouble controlling it and tracking the thing when it got far away. It shot up in the air, though, just like you described.
PSU_ME, Feb 21 2006
  

       And I've seen video of that little laser propelled saucer. Very wild.
bristolz, Feb 21 2006
  

       The one I saw used a 10kw pulsed IR laser. That's a whole lot of sunlight collection.
Shz, Feb 21 2006
  
      
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