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.