Is Space Solar Power Headed for Cislunar Space?

STS097-376-019 (7 December 2000) — A close-up view of the P6 solar array on the International Space Station (ISS), backdropped against the blackness of space and the Earth’s horizon. The P6 solar array is the first of eight sets of solar arrays that at the completion of the space station construction in 2006, will comprise the station’s electrical power system, converting sunlight to electricity.

C-SBSP has long believed that space-based solar power (SBSP) hardware should be manufactured in space, away from the deep gravity well of Planet Earth. Perhaps a cislunar application for SBSP will provide the impetus needed for the United States to develop the required space-based mining / refining, space-based manufacturing and space-based assembly technologies.

AFRL Ponders Solar Power Beaming for Lunar Patrol Sat

The article, published in Breaking Defense and linked above, explains how a novel satellite might just be an early consumer of space-based solar power.

Power Beaming & Space Solar Innovation by Dr. Paul Jaffe, PhD

Move energy, not mass.

This hour-long presentation by Dr. Paul Jaffee, PhD, of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory on July 30, 2020 is a comprehensive look at the past, present and future of power beaming and space based solar power. Power beaming is an integral part of space based solar power, and also has standalone terrestrial and space-based applications.

This video was livestreamed by the Homeland Defense & Security Information Analysis Center (HDIAC). The original podcast and links to additional resources highlighted by Dr. Jaffe may be found at:

Space Solar Power Demo Headed for Orbit on X-37B OTV

The sixth mission of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle is scheduled to launch on May 16, 2020. As reported by Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, aboard will be an experiment from the the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory will transform solar power into radio frequency microwave energy which could then be transmitted to the ground. Link to the full U.S. Space Force article is below.

Hat tip to Elisa Shebaro for posting this article on her FB page and letting us know!

Encapsulated X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle for United States Space Force-7 mission (Courtesy of Boeing)

Here’s a link to an additional “X-37B’s Next Mission To Demo Space-Based Solar Power” article from the Breaking Defense website:

LEctenna on ISS

Hearing NASA Astronaut, Jessica Meir say “space-based solar power arrays … incredible option in the future providing clean energy to power the world.” in this video (@3:14) from onboard the International Space Station literally brought me to tears.

As you all know, I’ve been an advocate of SBSP for years, just trying to make other citizens aware of this gamechanging clean energy technology.

Hat tip to Elisa Shebaro for posting this video on her FB page!

NASA 2020: A Year of Action

A good summary of NASA programs in 2020 and beyond. Still no mention of space-based solar power, but it’s good to see plans for the Artemis program moving forward. The establishment of a lunar base will provide a foundation for the development of lunar mining and manufacturing operations that could support a space-based solar power effort.

Happy Artemis Day – 12/09/2019

From the NASA Explore newsletter:

On Monday, Dec. 9, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine showed off the Space Launch System’s 212-foot-tall rocket core stage that will send our first Artemis mission to space. The core stage, built at America’s “Rocket Factory” – NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility – in New Orleans, is the largest we have produced since the Apollo Program.

The milestone marks a new chapter in the Artemis story as we work to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024.

Moon to Mars – We Are Going

Fifty years after the Apollo program propelled the first humans to the Moon, NASA’s Artemis program is a plan to return us to the Moon. This time, we will stay, in orbital and surface outposts. The knowledge and resources gained in these outposts will fuel humankind’s next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.

NASA programs spin off technologies that enter and improve our Earthbound lives. I believe the Artemis program will spin off space mining, space manufacturing, and other technologies that will support America’s capabilities to develop and implement scalable and sustainable space-based solar power.

As Citizens for Space Based Solar Power readers know, I believe that space-based solar power is the only viable replacement for fossil fuels that will supply global energy needs as we move into the 22nd century and beyond.

CASSIOPeiA – A New SPS Concept

Ian Cash, of SICA Design Ltd, presented a new Solar Power Satellite (SPS) concept during the Space Solar Power Workshop of the IEEE WiSEE conference held in Montreal last month. Ian’s presentation is linked below. Special thanks to Elisa Shebaro of PowerSOL, who attended this conference and brought the CASSIOPeiA presentation to my attention.

The CASSIOPeiA Solar Power Satellite is “based on the principle of wavelength-scale modular integration of all major functions, from solar collection through to beam-formation.” With no moving parts, CASSIOPeiA’s patent-pending phased array permits beam steering through 360 degrees.

The ultralight helical structure maintains a constant solar collecting area directly facing the Sun. Stowed as an integrated and highly compact package, this concept offers “the enticing possibility of a fully functional SPS deployed as a single payload.” The full CASSIOPeiA white paper can be read here.

Dr. Seyed (Reza) A. Zekavat, Michigan Tech, and Darel Preble, Space Solar Power Institute, Georgia Tech, co-chair the Space Solar Power Workshop as part of the annual IEEE WiSEE Conference. Papers and presentations from recent Space Solar Power Workshops can be seen at the bottom of Dr. Zekavat’s faculty page, here.


NASA Selects Economic Research Studies to Examine Investments in Space

As one of five research proposals selected for year-long studies, NASA will study the Colorado School of Mines’s proposal, “21st Century Trends in Space-Based Solar Power Generation and Storage.” Although previous NASA studies of the space-based solar power concept have not resulted in any meaningful action, perhaps this time will be different. It is at least encouraging to learn that NASA is still interested in this potentially game-changing idea.

“Our space technology work is focused on providing new capabilities for robotic and human exploration of the solar system, but we are also here to help enable new commercial markets or enterprises,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA. “The results of these studies provide insights into the potential economic impacts of new space-based capabilities and applications which in turn helps guide our investments in technology development.”

Jeremy Hsu’s article, NASA Wants to Know Cost of Space Solar Power, brought this September 23, 2017 NASA announcement to my attention. I left the following perhaps not-so-humble opinion in the comment section of Jeremy’s article:

IMHO: Space Based Solar Power (SBSP) will be our planet’s main source of energy at some point in the 21st century. The initial research and investments will be funded by a public-private partnership, with similarities to the transcontinental railroad and communication satellite projects.

I agree that high launch costs are one of the biggest hurdles to a successful implementation and scale-up of SBSP. Because of this, space-based mining and manufacturing technologies should precede, or at least parallel SBSP development.

Fossil fuels are a finite resource.Only the future point in time at which fossil fuels will be more costly to extract than they are worth is in question. For all practical purposes of humankind, energy from the sun is an infinite resource.

“It can’t be done!” is a self-fulfilling and self-defeating stance, especially when it is fueled by an inordinate amount of self-confidence.

All the best,
Rob Mahan
Self-appointed Advocate
Citizens for Space Based Solar Power

Stratolauncher – A New Way to LEO

Paul Allen is on a quest to expand access to space. Stratolaunch is envisioned as a reusable CTOL air-launch platform with a 550,000 pound payload capacity. With reduced launch wait times, launch location flexibility, and more missions per year, this innovative platform should start to bend the launch cost curve earthward. That’s good news for the development and deployment of space-based solar power.

Visit the Stratolaunch website for more information.