An Overview of the Space Manufacturing Conference

PowerSat's plans for beaming energy from space

Tom Abate from the San Francisco Chronicle has an excellent overview of last weekend’s Space Studies Institute’s Space Manufacturing 14 conference that deals with space-based solar power and other ventures:

Today, said conferee John Mankins of Artemis Innovation Management Solutions, such arrays would be far more economic, thanks to efficiencies in everything from solar cells to rocket launchers – not to mention the environmental benefit of supplying electricity without adding greenhouse gases.

Mankins estimated that it would cost $10 billion over 10 years to mount a large orbital solar program – which seems like a lot until compared with the 40-year, $50 billion investment that the United States and other countries have poured into determining the feasibility of Earth-based fusion reactors.

Speaker Eva-Jane Lark, with the Canadian investment firm BMO Nesbitt Burns, reminded conferees that PG&E has contracted to buy future space-based power from the Southern California startup Solaren, which hopes to be in production by 2016. That agreement, Lark said, represents a bankable promise that Solaren – and conceivably other space-power startups – could use to secure investment or loans….

The thrust of the conference was aimed at commerce. Would-be colonists like Hudson, who led a company called Rotary Rocket that tried and failed to get into the launch business, recognize that one big roadblock is the $5,000 to $10,000 that it costs to put every 2.2 pounds of cargo into orbit.

Read the full story.