English Russia have written a blog post about a little known Soviet laser pistol that they claim was developed for cosmonauts to shoot at enemy satellite optics. The english description they gave on how it works does not make a lot of sense. From what I understand it functioned just like the original ruby laser built by Theodore Maiman in 1960 (photo below). This laser worked by “pumping” a synthetic ruby rod with very bright light from a flashtube. The ruby rod would then emit a short laser pulse.
The Soviet laser gun looks like it had a ruby rod instead of a barrel. It’s fed by cartridges from a magazine. Either those cartridges contain a chemical flash powder, or they were ultra-high discharge batteries/cells that could power the laser for one “shot”, which would be multiple pulses, before having to be disposed of.
The output of this laser would be minimal. A quick glance through Electronic Engineering papers from the 1960s and 1970s report scientists achieving just 6% efficiency with ruby lasers. In other words, there is no way that this laser would burn a hole in a US or British satellite. If a cosmonauts really needed to do some damaged, they had the nifty Soviet TP-82 Space Pistol on hand.
Thanks to Arvydas for the tip.