Space-Based Solar Power

a public discussion sponsored by the Space Frontier Foundation

“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:

 Feel free to comment or ask questions!


9 Responses to ““The Space Show” Does Space-Based Solar Power!”

  1. Luna-tic&rockrat said

    (listening now)

    “forget the prior assumptions of the “Petrol” Age and think post-cheap energy.” is the theme of this discussion, must prepare to face that future and survive.

    DR.L made the statement “when you start talking about things that don’t exist, and you talk about how they can do This… This… and This… everything is theoretical… you have nothing in reality to base it on.”

    The Space Show has hosted to many a fantastic discussion about the aplication of technology to a human future, for him to confuse developing technology and fantasy says alot. The history of space is one of many dreams that became reality. Not just the history of space but the history of the 20th century which went from steam powered to nuclear powered, from horse and buggy to moon landing.

    the concept of SSP is there it is only the engineering and economics which need to be worked out. I still hold hope that out of this disater of a first decade might rise a century unbound by the same assumptions as it began with. I also dream of the future.

    I see closed cycle Nuclear thermal rockets basting from the remote Pacific. I see large scale mining on the moon with EM cannons lauching Millions of tons into lunar orbit. Solar blast furnaces smelt lunar ores into the building blocks of a new ‘Energy’ rich economy. the best part is that the holdup is not in the tools or technology but the men who fail to use them.

  2. N. Rothman said

    I listened to the show that you appeared on. Interesting stuff. I dont know if you have been chating about this with other people on this forum before but Bigelow has two working space stations in space right now. Why not team up with him and make space solar power a reality?


  3. G Shields said

    eply to N. Rothman: Launch costs must be kept low by simplicity of construction and light weight solar cell arrays. The Bigelow space station could be coated with thin film solar cells and placed in geostationary orbit. There would be no need to keep a spherical station oriented toward the sun. The only positioning needed would be to aim the microwave transmitter onto the terrestrrial antenna. Inflatable antennae offshore could be coated with dipoles amd provide a homing signal for the microwave transmitter aiming apparatus, compensating for some degree of drifting of the antenna.

  4. Neil Cox said

    A sphere with solar cells on all sides works good if you have several concentrating mirrors, which keep the shaded and dimly lit portions (directly by the Sun) mostly illuminated, otherwise, half the cells are producing no energy and another 20% are producing less than half.
    Offshore laser beam receivers (or rectennas) can efficiently supply coastal cities within about 100 kilometers, but I’m not sure these can be designed to survive even catagory 1 huricanes, nor equivent storms. A storm surge or Tsamii could rip the floating receiver from it’s under water power cable. Any low cost ideas for making the receivers storm resistant (both land and sea receivers)? Neil

  5. rajeevg said

    I have a simple suggestion.

    Why can’t we build a huge terrestrial solar array in (lets say, Nevada desert) generating upto a Gigawatt of energy. We can convert this energy to microwave and then beam it to a GEO satellite.

    This GEO would serve as a relay to transmit power to any site in the U.S or anywhere else it is needed (e.g the military?)

    What are the drawbacks of this proposal?

  6. Neil Cox said

    The drawbacks of GEO are extreme cost and/or technology that may not develop before 2050. Less costly would be a hundred or more high flying balloon SBSPs, or LEO = low Earth orbit SBSPs that both produce solar energy and receive energy from Earth, as soon as 2012. The transmitting antenna size would be much reduced to deliver a megawatt to a few square meters, at the scene of an emergency or war. 1/4 megawatt per square meter is, however, deadly to humans unless they can find shelter in seconds. The energy density would be somewhat lower when the satellite was not at the zenith. The beam can easily be widened and shaped to provide lower energy density when a bigger receiver or rectenna is available, and less than a megawatt is easy, if less is needed. Two beams can deliver up to two megawatts, but more than 100 SBSPs are required to often have two within range. Neil
    The soon to be available super capacitors could supply a megawatt for a minute or more, when neither beam, nor sunlight was available.
    It is likely unimportant that the lower altitude will make the units more valnerable to enemy fire, as even terrorists may have capability to damage GEO satellites by the time we have big SBSPs at GEO. We need to plan how a SBSP with several large holes can still operate at reduced power. Neil

  7. Edawg said

    one of the major holes in ssp right now is that there is no orbital craft to deliver people to orbit.IIf the right technology was developed could existing sub-orbital craft survive re-entry from orbit?

  8. Edawg said

    i.e spaceshiptwo and Bensons x-15 carbon copy

  9. How nice that they are going to build solar power based in space. I hope that
    solar power will continue to develop not only in world but also in space.

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