Dawn of Laser Powered Flight

The KC Space Pirates are going to set a new world record for keeping a small aircraft flying using laser power.

The Dawn of Laser Powered Flight

The KC Space Pirates are planning on keeping a AR Drone quad copter flying for 48 hours to demonstrate the potential of Laser Powered Flight and wireless power beaming. The KC Space Pirates are best known for our participation in the NASA Power Beaming Challenge pursuing a $2,000,000 prize purse. We are a 3 time top finisher and walked away with $90,000 in consolation prize money. We brought innovation, professionalism, and gumption to the Space Elevator games. In response to this refreshing attitude about science and space technology we were heavily covered by the press. Our workshop appeared on the cover of the New York Times Magazine. Our captain was interviewed on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

Wireless power beaming is in it's infancy. Lasers are getting more powerful and cheaper at an exponential rate. For power beaming to make a difference in the lives of everyone it needs to prove itself. And not just in some highly funded military or government lab. We intend to short-cut years of secret development of military applications and focus on what it can do for the rest of us.

What We Need

We have a lot of equipment from the Space Elevator Games and have gotten our core sponsors (TRUMPF, ThorLabs and National Instruments) to help us out in this new project, so we are a long ways toward our goal. But as usual it's the details that eat you alive. If this whole project ends up on our credit cards like a big chunk of the power beaming competition did, we just won't be able to continue.

So this campaign is to see if crowd funding cutting edge power beaming demonstrations is viable. If we can get the core expenses covered by flagship sponsors and the numerous smaller items covered by people like you we can continue to advance the state of the art and make power beaming a practical way to solve our power problems in the future.

We need your money to help us buy the following items:

  • We need a good DVR system to record the record and help broadcast it to the internet for everyone to see.
  • We have to have a professional ustream account.
  • We need to buy more quadcopter hardware so that it will be fresh for the record attempt.
  • We need to pay a guard for the overnight portions of the record for venue security requirements.
  • We need lots of safety equipment to scale this up from our small garage based lab to the large exhibit hall where we will do the record.
  • We also have to get the cells cut for the final photovoltaic panel.


We have arranged for some commemorative memorabilia and a few more solid perks. I hope you can find something you like. You can also contribute without choosing a perk so don’t sweat it.


Wireless power Beaming has many applications from mundane to fantastically grand. From keeping your dogs GPS locater charged to powering the Space Elevator. From delivering mail and pizza to delivering power from orbit to earth in Space Based Solar Power(SBS). All these applications have challenges to their practicality and need technology to develop before we will see them making our lives better. But keeping a quadcopter flying has reached the practicality threshold where a demo can help show the world that Power Beaming Prime Time will happen in our lifetime.

Power Beaming as Alternative Energy

Currently the efficiency of power beaming is low enough that it lacks credibility as “Alternative” energy however laser tech is currently improving at a rate reminiscent of Moore’s law. So we are only a few years from wireless power beaming having alternative energy credibility. The low cost lasers are entering the scene today and the custom photovoltaics have been basically waiting for lasers. Our end to end efficiency is predicted to be 5 to 7% using mostly off the shelf components. Custom components jump that to 30% with improvements passing the 50% mark not far off.

We can use power beaming to reduce or replace fossil fuels in aircraft. Electric aircraft are coming of age with realistic ranges and performance levels. Power beaming can allow these aircraft to match their fossil fueled bretheren.

Hybrid aircraft is another area of interest to the KC Space Pirates. We estimate that 1/4 to 1/3rd of the fuel needed to power a 777 cargo plane at cruise could be provided by power beaming from mid levels orbiting satellites.

Tounge in Cheek

You might have noticed we are a bit tounge in cheek around here. We want science and technology to be fun and approachable. Not just for us but for future generations as well.

Beware sign

Now Is The Time!

Industry is waiting for the government to show power beaming is ready. The government is waiting for the military. We’re waiting for no one! Well, actually, we are waiting for you to pick out a perk and show that the world wants new tech to make it a better place.

Other Ways You Can Help

All the KC Space Pirate crew has day jobs. It takes a constant bubbling of effort by our supporters to keep this going. We need help managing the social media and getting the word out. We need help manning the cameras and video feed for the event. And we have an eye out for the next crew member to fill out our skill set to take on this and future projects. Contact me if you think you have what it takes.

Brian Turner


KC Space Pirates


Team on This Campaign: