Studying How to Bring Solar Power Down to Earth

Solar power system. (Credit: Frazer-Nash Consultancy)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Solar energy generation keeps on becoming cheaper and more efficient, but some basic limitations will always apply: solar panels can only generate power during the daytime, and much of the sunlight is absorbed by the atmosphere as it shines downward. So ESA is working on the concept of collecting solar power up in orbit, where sunlight is up to 11 times more intense than across European territory, then beaming it down to the ground for use.

As part of that effort, a new project looks into designing solar-power satellites, which would become the largest structures ever built in space. Frazer-Nash Consultancy will study the modular construction of solar-power satellites, to efficiently dissembling them as they come to their end-of-life for reuse or recycling.

Supported through the Discovery element of ESA’s Basic Activities, this project was initiated through ESA’s Open Space Innovation Platform, seeking out promising new ideas for space. Find out more about this and other recent OSIP activities here.

ESA Reignites Space-based Solar Power Research

Artist’s impression of a solar power satellite. (Credit: European SPS Tower concept)

PARIS (ESA PR) — We urgently need solutions to tackle climate change on Earth. Meanwhile, the space sector is working hard to make space exploration more sustainable. ESA is targeting both ambitions by enabling European academia and industry to take further steps towards space-based solar power (SBSP).

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AFRL, Northrop Grumman Demonstrate Solar to Radio Frequency Conversion for Space Solar Power Project

Project Managers James Winter (Air Force Research Laboratory) and Tara Theret (Northrop Grumman) hold models of the photovoltaic and the radio frequency sides of the sandwich tile, while at the Linthicum, Maryland facility, to witness the conversion and beaming experiment. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFRL PR) – The Air Force Research Laboratory’s and Northrop Grumman’s Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations and Research (SSPIDR) Project have successfully conducted the first end-to-end demonstration of key hardware for the Arachne flight experiment.

A ground demonstration of novel components for the “sandwich tile” were used to successfully convert solar energy to radio frequency (RF) – a fundamental step required to pave the way for a large-scale solar power collection system in space.

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ESA Moves Forward with Your Ideas for 11 Pioneering Missions

Depictions of some of mission ideas submitted to ESA. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — You spoke, we listened. Last September, we asked for your ideas for future space missions. Our goal was to tap into the insight, expertise and creativity of European citizens, companies and academia to help us plan for the future. Based on over 200 ideas, ESA Discovery & Preparation is now launching 11 new activities over the course of the coming year, that will together shape the future of space.

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AFRL Selects 10 Universities for Prestigious Satellite Program

Graphic representation of Arachne, the first solar power beaming experiment for the Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations & Research Project. (Credit: AFRL)

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFRL PR) – The Air Force Research Laboratory’s University Nanosatellite Program (UNP) has selected 10 universities to participate in the upcoming 2-year partnership to design, fabricate and test small satellites.

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UK Unveils “Bold” Strategy to Develop World Class Space Industry

  • National Space Strategy sets out long-term plans to strengthen the UK’s status as a world-class space nation
  • New vision will help grow UK’s multibillion-pound space industry, boost private investment and capitalise on UK strengths such as satellite manufacturing
  • Brings together UK government civil and defence space activities to protect UK interests at home and abroad

LONDON (UK Government PR) — New plans to strengthen the UK as a world class space nation by firing up its multibillion-pound space industry have been set out in a National Space Strategy  launched today.

From connecting people with their friends and family and monitoring climate to helping farmers to manage their crops, space plays a pivotal role in our daily lives, and is a vital part of the UK economy, worth over £16 billion per year.

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Beyond Earth Announces Major Space Solar Power US Policy Recommendations

An artistic representation showcases the capture of solar energy in space that is precisely beamed it to where it is needed through the Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations and Research (SSPIDR) Project. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

WASHINGTON, August 5, 2021 (BEI PR) — Today the Beyond Earth Institute (BEI) is pleased to announce the unveiling of a Space Policy Directive (SPD) recommended for consideration by the US National Space Council, chaired by Vice President Kamala Harris, to promote the advancement and development of space solar power. Full text of the SPD can be downloaded here.

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UK Government Commissions Space Solar Power Stations Research

Artist’s impression of how a space-based solar power station might work. (Credit: Frazer-Nash Consultancy)

Solar energy harvested in space offers the potential for an unlimited and constant zero carbon power source

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The UK government has commissioned new research into space-based solar power (SBSP) systems that would use very large solar power satellites to collect solar energy, convert it into high-frequency radio waves, and safely beam it back to ground-based receivers connected to the electrical power grid.

It is an idea first conjured by science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov in 1941, and is now being studied by several nations because the lightweight solar panels and wireless power transmission technology is advancing rapidly. This, together with lower cost commercial space launch, may make the concept of solar power satellites more feasible and economically viable.

Now the UK in 2020 will explore whether this renewable technology could offer a resilient, safe and sustainable energy source.

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John Mankin’s Kickstarter Campaign for Space Solar Power Book

Space Studies Institute Senior Adviser John C. Mankins has launched a KickStarter fund-raising campaign to fund a new high-quality, non-fiction book on space solar power. Mankins, an internationally recognized expert on the subject who is president of Artemis Innovation Management Solutions LLC, is attempting to raise $25,000 by Wednesday, June 27.

A brief summary of the project:

I propose to write and publish a high-quality nonfiction book on the topic of Space Solar Power — harvesting solar energy in space and delivering it via wireless power transmission to Earth as clean, affordable and sustainable electricity. The book would be intended for general and expert audiences, and depending on the pledge amount would be provided along with various additional information and items, including one or more videos. It would comprise technical, historical and policy related details, and would summarize the latest news in this unique field, including a transformational new SPS advanced concept: “SPS-ALPHA”. (At present, it is planned to be entitled “Space Solar Power & the SPS-ALPHA Concept,” although this may change…)

Please give what you can to help John reach his goal. Click here to donate. Time is short. Donate today.











NSS to Announce “Ground-Breaking” Wireless Space Solar Power Findings

PowerSat's plans for beaming energy from space

NSS PR — Washington, D.C. — The National Space Society (NSS) will hold a press conference on November 14, 2011, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to announce the findings of a ground-breaking space solar power study conducted by the prestigious International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).

“With space solar power technology, energy can be collected from space and transmitted wirelessly anywhere in the world,” said Mark Hopkins, the leading Executive Officer of the National Space Society. “This technology could be the answer to our energy crisis. We look forward to sharing the results of the IAA’s study, and exploring the potential that space solar power has for creating thousands of green energy jobs,” he added.

This event is free and open to the public. Members of the press are encouraged to attend.











NSS Gets Support for Space Solar Power Effort

NSS PR — Dr. Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, a Senior Fellow at India’s Institute of Security Studies, and Senior Fellow at India’s Observer Research Foundation, is urging the United States and India to jointly develop an energy alternative that can take us beyond nuclear technology.  Events like the recent earthquake in Japan are causing many to rethink traditional energy sources.  The energy alternative suggested is Space Solar Power (SSP).  In the online Analysis publication of the Indian Observer Research Foundation, Dr. Rajagopalan writes, “With the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, isn’t it time for India and the US to make serious commitments to Space-Based Solar Power?”

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Space Review Looks at Space Tourism Soot, Titan’s Smog and Clean Solar Power

Photo by Mark Greenberg

This week in The Space Review

Climate change and suborbital spaceflight
The same day that commercial spaceflight supporters were celebrating the development of Spaceport America, a new study concluded that suborbital flights that facility will host could alter the planet’s climate. Jeff Foust examines the latest research and some of the issues associated with the study.

The mysteries of Titan

Thirty years ago this week Voyager 1 made the first close flyby of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon and one of the most intriguing worlds in the solar system. Andrew LePage recounts the research into Titan and the planning that led up to that encounter.

Space solar power’s Indian connection
As the United States and India seek closer ties, should space-based solar power be on the agenda? Jeff Foust reports on developments in that field, including a new joint initiative supported by a former Indian president.











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.

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Kalam-NSS Initiative Aimed at Producing Cheap Clean Power from Space

National Space Society Chairman Mark Hopkins held a press conference this morning in which he unveiled more details of the Kalam-NSS Initiative, a joint U.S.-Indian effort aimed at building clean space-based solar power satellites.

Hopkins said that the program would combine American technology and low-cost Indian manufacturing to generate jobs and clean energy in both countries. A vibrant space solar power program would make the nations net energy exporters instead of importers.

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NSS, India to Launch Space-Based Solar Power Initiative

NSS PRESS RELEASE

The National Space Society will hold a press conference Thursday, November 4 at the National Press Club to reveal one of the first initiatives ever undertaken by a non-profit American organization and a former head of state. That initiative pairs India’s eleventh President, Dr. A.P.J. Kalam with America’s National Space Society. Its name? The Kalam-NSS Energy Initiative.

The Kalam-NSS Energy Initiative’s goals? To solve the global energy crisis. To solve the global carbon crisis. And to solve America’s next generation jobs crisis. How? By harvesting solar power in space.

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