India, Space Solar Power, Reusable Launch Vehicles, and a Partnership Opportunity?
Posted by Coyote on July 2, 2007
The article implies that India has identified the need for cheap, reliable, frequently reusable spacelift as the principle technical challenge that must be overcome. The article states:
“Mr Saraswath [India's Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) chief controller for research and development] said Reusable Launch Vehicles are needed to make [space-based solar power] cost effective.”
Solving the spacelift problem has been identified almost universally in all studies as the principle impediment to all activities in space—this also seems to be the case regarding space-based solar power—now with some independent confirmation from India.
But what is really interesting in Stanley Theodore’s article is the same expression of concern to pursue space-based solar power to “meet ever growing energy requriements” while recognizing that “the era of conventional fuels is ending.”
This same sentiment was expressed directly by the President of India, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, on 20 April 2007, before a forum arranged by Boston Univeristy when he stated: (Read the press release from asia.spaceref.com)
“[C]ivilization will run out of fossil fuels in this Century. However, Solar energy is clean and inexhaustible. However solar flux on earth is available for just 6-8 hours every day whereas incident radiation on space solar power station would be 24 hrs every day. What better vision can there be for the future of space exploration, than participating in a global mission for perennial supply of renewable energy from space, he asked.”
To what degree does this signal a policy alignment between India and the goals of this study? To what degree does this suggest a partnership with India is ready for the making?