Space-Based Solar Power

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Archive for the ‘Space Solar Power news’ Category

Obama Team Asking for Public Input on Space-Based Solar Power

Posted by Coyote on December 13, 2008

Fellow Advocates and Skeptics of Space-Based Solar Power

A few weeks ago, the Space Frontier Foundation (and another group that wishes to remain nameless) submitted a white paper on Space-Based Solar Power to the Obama transition team. Over the weekend this white paper was posted to the “Change.Gov” website by the Obama transition team to acquire public feedback on the idea that Space Solar Power (as it is called in the white paper) should be part of a balanced federal portfolio of energy research and development.

The Space Frontier Foundation’s white paper was among the first 10 white papers posted by the Obama transition team, and it is the only white paper on space (so far).

We clearly have the attention and interest of senior Obama policy officials.

In just a few days, there are over 200 comments from the public so far on the concept of new national initiative to invest in Space Solar Power. Quite a few of the comments are critical, and recommend that we continue to invest nothing in Space Solar Power.

If ever there was a time to participate in a discussion about nation’s future in space, it is now.

Your voice needs to be heard now.

If you want to make a difference in our nation’s future, then go to http://change.gov/open_government/entry/space_solar_power_ssp_a_solution_for_energy_independence_climate_change/. This will take you to the Change.Gov website where you can engage in this critical debate on whether America should invest in Space Solar Power.

Cheers!

Coyote (credit for authorship goes to Charles “Chazmanian Devil” Miller.)

Posted in Space Solar Power news | 34 Comments »

Time to Build! A First Look at “The Initial Plan”

Posted by Coyote on October 13, 2008

All,

Its time to let actions speak louder than words. We’re going to build the first ever space-based solar power satellites!

I made this announcement at the International Space Development Conference and again at the New$pace (properly spelled with a dollar sign) conference in Washington D.C. this summer. Now it’s time to let you in on what has been discussed. We are still at the beginning of this project. That’s why I want to start by going public. I believe in providing transparency into this project because developing another source of safe, clean energy is just too important to the US, our Allies, and the World.

In addition, I want to hear from you. You probably have lots of ideas that can help us out. Now, let’s look into our project a bit closer.

Background:

Earlier this summer Ambassador Roger Harrison, the Director of the Eisenhower Center for Space and Defense Studies at the United States Air Force Academy, had the idea of building a small SBSP demonstration satellite at the Academy and in concert with a handful of other highly technical and competent universities inside the US. He invited me to serve as the “Visiting Associate Director for Special Space Solar Power Projects” at the Eisenhower Center. Yes, that ominous sounding title is a mouthful that makes me chuckle every time he says it. For some reason it makes me want to wear a bigger hat with my uniform.

Our Vision, Mission, and Mandate:

Our vision is to light a single bulb from space and in-so-doing light the path for business to follow.

Our mission is to give academy and university students a one-of-a-kind educational experience solving real world energy problems on the path to commercial development of space-based solar power. At the same time, this will help build the work force for industry to capitalize on.

Our mandate is to Keep It Cheap And Simple and deliver it Soon (KICASS). Be careful who you pronounce the acronym in front of…and please use a hard ‘c’ sound, because a soft ‘c’ is unacceptable!

Project Overview:

The project involves the building of two satellite systems concurrently, one “heavy” and one “light.” This dual approach using radically different methods gives us greater assurance that we will succeed in the event that technical, legal, financial, or other challenges bog down one effort. Both satellite missions will be launched into space, if possible. The desired launch dates are in 2010.

Each satellite must weigh 400 pounds or less and be prepared to ride into orbit for free on an ESPA ring. In order to keep the weight of the satellite down, we must use lasers for power beaming because the microwave systems are way too large. There is a benefit in this. Neither the Federal Communications Commission nor the International Telegraphic Union need to be consulted for laser energy beaming as there are no associated frequencies that must be deconflicted. Such consultation would be required if we were using microwave.

The “heavy” satellite mission represents a more complicated set of tasks and greater expense than its counterpart. It will place on orbit a satellite that will collect power and broadcast it to Earth via laser (1.0 or 0.86 microns). In order to keep the size of the solar array light and manageable, we will accept several orbits to allow the satellite to store energy and build up a sufficient charge for broadcast to the ground receiving station where the lightbulb will be illuminated. The use of a positive control laser at the ground receiving station will be used to allow the satellite to aim its laser precisely at the receiver and to authorize its discharge.

The “light” satellite mission turns the experiment on its head. It will place on orbit a satellite that merely contains a receiver and the lightbulb that will be illuminated by a ground-based laser (1.0 or 0.86 microns). Visual observation of the light on the satellite being illuminated during the laser broadcast will indicate success.

To keep the project as cheap as possible, the use of existing ground equipment is desired. Using simple satellite designs and employing proven hardware is also desired.

The satellites need not have a long on-orbit life and our goal is to allow them to safely deorbit at any time after successfully completing the experiment, which will likely include the requirement for replication by independent observers.

Limitations:

International Traffic in Ams Regulations (ITAR), which I hate with a passion, prevents us from working with non-US universities and non-US citizens.  (I personally cheer on all attempts to improve ITAR (WIHWAP) so we can collaborate more broadly with our traditional and especially our non-traditional international partners.)

Money is a factor. We have to do this on the cheap. Ambassador Harrison is exploring ways that organizations and individuals can make tax deductible contributions to educational institutions which can be used to fund this project. In addition, I am sure he’ll accept funding from government organizations that would like to advance this concept.

Some will accuse us of trying to field a weapon. This is simply not the case, but we are taking measures to alleviate such concerns. Theresa Hitchens from the Center for Defense Information sits on this project’s advisory board. She has complete access to everything we will be doing. We share her belief that providing transparency into this project is the principle method of preventing baseless accusations.

Conclusion:

There you go. Now, once again, you know as much about this project as I do…and I’m leading it!

Please provide comments and lets get the discussion going.

Cheers!

Coyote

Posted in Space Solar Power news | 63 Comments »

Space-Based Solar Power Breakthrough to Be Announced

Posted by Robin on September 12, 2008

First-of-a-Kind Long-Distance Demonstration of Solar-Powered Wireless Power Transmission Technology

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following event announcement was released by the National Space Society:

What: Space solar power could be a clean, renewable solution to America’s long-term energy needs. John C. Mankins, former manager of NASA’s Exploration Systems Research and Technology Program, and one of the foremost experts on space solar power, will announce on Friday a milestone demonstration of the critical technology enabling SSP: long-distance, solar-powered wireless power transmission.

The project demonstrated wireless power transmission between two Hawaiian islands 148 kilometers apart, more than the distance from the surface of Earth to the boundary of space.

It will be featured in an hour-long special that evening on Discovery Channel as part of DISCOVERY PROJECT EARTH, an eight-part series on the most ambitious geo-engineering ideas to tackle global climate change and the need for new and sustainable energy sources.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Space Solar Power news | 6 Comments »

Discovery Channel to Show Documentary on Space-Based Solar Power!

Posted by Coyote on September 3, 2008

I told Mike “Green Hornet” Hornitschek that we’d be famous!

The Discovery Channel (which my kids LOVE and we LOVE them watching it!) will show a documentary on Space-Based Solar Power at 10pm on 12 September, 2008. We filmed it in Washington DC at the Space Frontier Foundation’s New$pace 2008 conference (you are a member, aren’t you?). It was so totally cool working with the pros from the Futures Channel who did the filming (they must work closely with the Discovery Channel). It was amazing watching them do their thing.  They turned a small conference room at the hotel into a studio, wired us up, created mood lighting, and all that Hollywood stuff. These guys were entirely professional and WOW, it was entirely motivational being around professional media people who want to tell a story so kids get excited!

So, here is the preview from our most excellent friends at the Futures Channel:

Space-Based Solar Power on the Futures Channel

Make sure you tune-in to the Discovery Channel when it airs. Record it, and share it with all your friends, consistent with the laws in your viewing area*!

Cheers!

Coyote

* We’ve got to be careful with copyright laws…I once got into a kerfuffel because I described a baseball game to a friend of mine without the expressed written permission of the commissioner of major league baseball!

Posted in Commercial Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power, Political Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power, Scientific Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power, Space Solar Power news, Study-Related, Technical Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power | 3 Comments »

Power Grids May Need Modernization to Take SBSP!

Posted by Coyote on August 29, 2008

It is critical for business case developers and architectural designers to consider how we will feed the energy provided by space-based solar power satellites from the rectifying antenna on the ground into the existing power grids. Wind power is already having a major problem within this.

Our friend, starbase202, sent me this interesting article that describes the problem. It comes from the New York Times online: (please disregard shots taken at political figures in the article–that’s not our aim here)

Wind Energy Bumps Into Power Grid’s Limits
by Matthew L. Wald
published 26 August, 2008

This is something we clearly need to keep in mind as we pursue space-based solar power.

Does this make space-based solar power measurably more difficult?

Cheers!

Coyote

Posted in Space Solar Power news | 6 Comments »

Wireless Power Broadcast for Computers and Phones Anticipated!

Posted by Coyote on August 23, 2008

Power beaming is a critical for space-based solar power. It also would be nice if our laptops and cell phones didn’t need to be plugged in, becoming truly wireless.

Intel recently brought the concept closer to reality with a live demo illuminating a 60 watt bulb on stage at an annual meeting in San Francisco of the company’s developers. Their goal is simple, free computers and other devices from power cords.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Environmental Challenges of Space-Based Solar Power, Logistical Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power, Scientific Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power, Space Solar Power news, Technical Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power | 7 Comments »

ITAR (which I hate with a passion) Slammed by the Economist

Posted by Coyote on August 22, 2008

In my humble opinion, the greatest impediment standing in the way of greater business opportunity and international partnerships for the American space industry are our export laws contained in the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), which I hate with a passion!

It is important for us to understand how ITAR (WIHWAP) can affect our space industry, because space-based solar power is such a huge undertaking that international partnerships will be required not only for construction, but also for ownership and development of an international customer base.

The Economist published an article yesterday criticizing ITAR (WIHWAP). The AIAA Daily Launch (an email news service for members of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics–you are a member, aren’t you?) described the article this way:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Commercial Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power, International Partnerships for Space-Based Solar Power, Legal Challenges for Space-Based Solar Power, Political Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power, Space Solar Power news | 2 Comments »

Weaponization, Environmental Risk, and Multinational Approaches

Posted by Coyote on August 10, 2008

Today I was asked by a politically-minded individual what political hurtles space-based solar power might face when confronted with questions of weaponization, safety, and multinational approaches. My reply is below. Please check my work!

“Your concern about weaponization of the system and environmental risks are proper and deserve solid answers. For the answers (and a whole bunch of other great information) let me point you to a special edition of Ad Astra magazine produced by the National Space Society.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in International Partnerships for Space-Based Solar Power, Legal Challenges for Space-Based Solar Power, Political Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power, Space Solar Power news, Technical Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power | 13 Comments »

New York Times, NPR, and EDN Debate Space-Based Solar Power

Posted by Coyote on August 6, 2008

One of our heroes, O Glenn Smith, has picked up the torch for space-based solar power and is doing all he can to get the word out and to stimulate research and development. He hit two very major news outlets in the same week!

On 23 July 2008, he published an op-ed piece titled “Harvest the Sun – From Space” in the New York times.

Then on 29 July 2008, he was interviewed on NPR (National Public Radio) in a piece titled, “Can We Run the World Off the Sun?”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Space Solar Power news | 10 Comments »

Space-Based Solar Power: Part of a Balanced Energy Diet!

Posted by Coyote on July 29, 2008

Our good friend Geoffrey Styles of the GSW Strategy Group, LLC, gave a most thought provoking presentation at the Space Frontier Foundation’s NewSpace 2008 Conference In Crystal City, Virgina, on 19 July 2008. It was a great conference! They even provided us with a brief synopsis of our space solar power panel.

Included here are the slides he used to describe a new way of thinking of national energy consumption. \”SSP In a Changing Energy Diet\” Instead of discussing the energy “mix” of sources, he rightly points out that like calories in a person’s diet, not all calories are equal.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Commercial Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power, International Partnerships for Space-Based Solar Power, Legal Challenges for Space-Based Solar Power, Political Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power, Space Solar Power news | 2 Comments »

A message for the next President

Posted by Robin on July 29, 2008

Take a look at this video. It was posted a few days ago on Youtube. Apparently it was made by people who want to inform the next administration about the long term energy and environmental benefits of a space policy that embraces space-based solar power.

Your thoughts?

Cheers!

Coyote (with posting help from Rocket Sellers)

Posted in Space Solar Power news | 23 Comments »

Ad Astra Special Report: Space-Based Solar Power

Posted by Coyote on April 9, 2008

Look at the attention you’re getting!

Our very good friends at the National Space Society recently published a special report of their acclaimed Ad Astra magazine covering Space-Based Solar Power! It goes into some technical details, but best of all it tells the story about how the Caballeros worked with the National Security Space Office to make the Space-Based Solar Power Study Group report become reality.  It was based on a lot of the work done right here, on this blog!

So for those of you who have been contributing to the discussions here, THIS IS A STORY ABOUT YOU and the good things you’ve been doing here. So, the next time your spouse or significant other complains that you are spending way too much time in the blogosphere…toss him or her a copy of this magazine and say, “I’ve been doing important work to solve the energy crisis!” You’ll be telling the truth!

Kudos to the National Space Society and their Ad Astra team–they are great people to work with and are doing a great job advancing humanities spacefaring prowess. You are a member, aren’t you?

Posted in Space Solar Power news, Study-Related | Tagged: | 21 Comments »

Space Solar Power Presentation at LIFT08

Posted by Coyote on March 2, 2008

Many have already seen this, but it is well worth posting here.

Guy Pignolet from the Sunsat Energy Council gave an interesting presentation about Space Solar Power on 7 February 2008 at a recent LIFT08 Conference.

To see the presentation, click here: Space Solar Power by Guy Pignolet (Moderator- Bruno Guissani)

Enjoy!

Coyote

Posted in Space Solar Power news, Study-Related | 1 Comment »

Space Solar Power Demo: WWWWW & H?

Posted by Coyote on January 12, 2008

It’s time to get busy again!

Our very good friend, Hu Davis, recently circulated some good questions regarding the who, what, when, where, why, and hows of demonstrating space solar power. He poses the questions from the perspectives of two groups; space solar power enthusiasts, and some NASA people who work the International Space Station (ISS). (Please note that like the rest of us, our friends at NASA-ISS are just brainstorming with us to see what help the ISS might be able to lend to advance space solar power concepts–there is no official NASA position or policy on any of this yet.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in International Partnerships for Space-Based Solar Power, Logistical Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power, Scientific Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power, Space Solar Power news, Study-Related, Technical Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power | 96 Comments »

Google Lunar X-Prize and Space-Based Solar Power

Posted by Coyote on November 22, 2007

All,

One of our regular contributors, Dan Lantz, provided us with a link to an incredibly well done Internet video that explains the Google Lunar X-Prizes for Lunar Exploration in a production called “Moon 2.0.” Space-Based Solar Power makes a cameo appearance!

Personally, I think it steals the scene, like Sean Connery arriving triumphantly in the last scene of Keven Costner’s movie “Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.” Oops, did I spoil it? Sorry. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Space Solar Power news | 16 Comments »

Space-Based Solar Power Interim Assessment (Release 0.1) is Published!

Posted by Coyote on October 10, 2007

Hello Everyone!

Click here for the “Interim Assessment!”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Business Case to Space-Based Solar Power, Commercial Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power, Environmental Challenges of Space-Based Solar Power, International Partnerships for Space-Based Solar Power, Legal Challenges for Space-Based Solar Power, Logistical Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power, Political Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power, Scientific Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power, Space Solar Power news, Study-Related, Technical Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power | 74 Comments »

Where’s the Final Report?

Posted by Coyote on September 15, 2007

Space-Based Solar Power Advocates and Critics,

September 15th is here…so where’s the final report from the National Security Space Office that was promised???

There won’t be any. Well, not a final report, and not by close of business today.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Space Solar Power news, Study-Related | 22 Comments »

The Impact of International Partners on the Business Case and Space Law

Posted by Coyote on August 24, 2007

Yesterday I met with a world-famous, economics-minded, globetrotting, space cynic. Naturally, this was at one of the D.C. area’s Irish pubs, which various Internet sources claim is my typical work location. Um…yea. The discussion was too good to keep to myself, so here are some takeaway points for your consideration and comment:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Space Solar Power news | 11 Comments »

Russia Working on SSP: Claim ~50% Efficient Solar Cells

Posted by Coyote on August 5, 2007

“Tapping Into Space For Energy”
By Yuri Zaitsev, Novosti, August 03 2007

The Russian News and Information Agency released a story by Yuri Zaitsev (click the link above to read). Therein he nicely summarizes the need for space solar power and the evolution of photovoltaic cells that collect and convert solar power into electricity. What is most interesting is that he asserts that by using pure quartzites (citing, “The largest deposits of very pure quartzites are found in Russia, which had vast reserves of them”) that:

Recently the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, near Moscow, developed a photo cell with an efficiency of almost 50%. Scientists describe their product as a “star battery.” It is an example of how nanotechnology can improve the workings of well-known processes.

Keep in mind that every improvement in efficiency along the collection-delivery pathway improves the business case.

This begs two questions:
1. What are the technical implications of ~50% efficient cells?
2. Does this signal cooperation or competition with the Russians?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Space Solar Power news | 14 Comments »

“The Space Show” Does Space-Based Solar Power!

Posted by Coyote on August 3, 2007

On Wednedsay, 1 Aug 2007, I was a guest on “The Space Show” with host Dr David Livingston.  David was a superb host and the call-in questions were quite good.  Part of the summary that David posted included the following:

“Col. Smith told us why the military is interested in SSP and this is something you need to hear Col. Smith explain. But as you will see, this is a national imperative. Listeners asked many questions about economics, time tables, antennas, frequencies, and more. Questions were asked about space tourism as a possible facilitator as well as ITAR issues.”

You can hear the show by clicking here:  http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/747-BWB-2007-08-01.mp3

 Feel free to comment or ask questions!

Posted in Space Solar Power news | 9 Comments »

Trade Spaces

Posted by Coyote on August 1, 2007

Taking the long view, we don’t need to rush to answer every question immediately.  

 

There are some wide open trade spaces that need to be examined and experimented with much more closely.  Here are some examples:

 

Energy collection:  What method is best; photovoltaic or solar dynamic collection?  Within each method, there are various designs, for example, using the photovoltaic method, which technique of collection is best; large flat arrays or sun towers with concentrator mirrors?

 

Power beaming:  What method should be used to broadcast to the ground; microwave or laser?  Each has pros and cons.  Microwave is certainly safer, but lasers require a relatively small receiver by comparison.  Microwave might be best for permanently supplying a city with power, but laser might be better for broadcasting to a location that needs a rapid set-up time…such as part of a disaster relief effort.

 

What are the other major trade spaces???  

Posted in Space Solar Power news | 31 Comments »

An Invitation:

Posted by Coyote on July 24, 2007

Our very good friends at the Marshall Institute are graciously hosting a “Washington Roundtable” discussion here in Washington D.C. on 8 August to discuss space-based solar power.  It is open to the public.  Jeff Kueter, the president of the institute, asked me to post this inviation to all of you.  If you can make it, please attend … and do follow the RSVP instructuctions to be courteous to our hosts!

The details follow:

WASHINGTON ROUNDTABLE ON SCIENCE AND PUBLIC POLICY

Energy from Space:

Examining the Potential of Space
to Provide Energy for Earth

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Space Solar Power news | 51 Comments »

Meet Coyote in D.C. 18 July 2007

Posted by Coyote on July 15, 2007

Fellow Space Solar Power Advocates and Skeptics,

I know many of you are planning to attend the Space Frontier Foundation’s NewSpace 2007 Conference in Washington D.C. If you are, this is a great opportunity for us to meet!

On Wednesday, 18 July, I will be in the Doubletree Hotel lounge from around 5:30 to 6:30pm.

Please stop by and say hello and be ready to talk about space-based solar power!  (We’ll turn it into a 5,000 hits party!)

Cheers!

Coyote

Posted in Space Solar Power news | 6 Comments »

India, Space Solar Power, Reusable Launch Vehicles, and a Partnership Opportunity?

Posted by Coyote on July 2, 2007

In a recent posting on The Statesmen website, author Stanley Theodore briefly describes India’s intent to pursue space-based solar power in an article titled “Solar Energy In Space to Power India.”

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.” 

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Space Solar Power news, Technical Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power | 10 Comments »

Sunshine From a Space Cynic

Posted by Coyote on June 9, 2007

You Are My Sunshine
By Shubber Ali, Space Cynics, Saturday June 09, 2007

Shubber Ali points out that a prerequisite for space-based solar power is “cheap, reliable, reusable access to space.” This jives with expert opinions rendered by some core members of my team. (Do the beautiful people still say “jives?”)

But believe it or not, I am actually partly heartened by this latest push to SSPS. Why? … I am firmly of the belief that only the DoD has the budget, the operational experience, and the political clout to develop truly cheap, reliable, reusable access to space.

I include Ali’s note to Gen Armor because he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for advancing the art of spacefaring through innovative approaches like taking our work on-line for all to participate in!

Note to Major General James Armor (Director of the National Security Space Office) – kudos for having the foresight to look at this problem…

Coyote

Posted in Space Solar Power news | 2 Comments »

Wired Coyote

Posted by Robin on June 8, 2007

Military Target: Solar-Beaming Sats
By Noah Shachtman, Wired, June 07, 2007

Last month, a man at a bar introduced himself as “Coyote,” and told me he was working on the Pentagon’s plans to build a string of satellites that beamed solar rays down to Earth.

Posted in Political Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power, Space Solar Power news | 7 Comments »

Press clips

Posted by Robin on June 4, 2007

Space solar power: opposition and obstacles
Taylor Dinerman, The Space Review, Monday, June 4, 2007

Potentially unlimited solar power from space would seem to be something everyone could support, but that is not necessarily the case.

Pentagon Considering Study on Space-Based Solar Power
– Space News 11 April 2007

The Pentagon’s National Security Space Office (NSSO) may begin a study in the near future on the possibility of using satellites to collect solar energy for use on Earth, according to Defense Department officials.

Posted in Space Solar Power news | 1 Comment »

 
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