Large scale directed energy offers the possibility of radical transformation in a variety of areas, including the ability to achieve relativistic flight that will enable the first interstellar missions, as well as rapid interplanetary transit. In addition, the same technology will allow for long-range beamed power for ion, ablation, and thermal engines, as well as long-range recharging of distant spacecraft, long-range and ultra high bandwidth laser communications, and many additional applications that include remote composition analysis, manipulation of asteroids, and full planetary defense. Directed energy relies on photonics which, like electronics, is an exponentially expanding growth area driven by diverse economic interests that allows transformational advances in space exploration and capability. We have made enormous technological progress in the last few years to enable this long-term vision. In addition to the technological challenges, we must face the economic challenges to bring the vision to reality. The path ahead requires a fundamental change in the system designs to allow for the radical cost reductions required. To afford the full-scale realization of this vision we will need to bring to fore integrated photonics and mass production as a path forward. Fortunately, integrated photonics is a technology driven by vast consumer need for high speed data delivery. We outline the fundamental physics
that drive the economics and derive an analytic cost model that allows us to logically plan the path ahead
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