Laser-Boosted Rocket Sets Altitude Record

A private group has set the world’s altitude record for a laser-boosted rocket. The milestone flight is seen as a steppingstone to radically lowering the cost of access to space. Lightcraft Technologies, Inc. (LTI), of Bennington, Vermont, successfully flew its 4.8-inch- (12.2-centimeter-) diameter laser-boosted rocket last month. The small, futuristic hardware rode a powerful beam of light generated from the High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. A U.S. Army 10-kilowatt pulsed carbon dioxide laser sent the Lightcraft soaring to 233 feet (71 meters) in a flight lasting 12.7 seconds. The test shot at the semi-hush-hush White Sands facility took place early October 2.