I came across this recent TED Talk and the presenter eloquently summarized, in so many words, why it would be prudent for humankind to begin an earnest effort to make space-based solar power a reality. He believes that humans are highly intelligent and innovative, enough to solve the problem of over-exceeding the planet’s carrying capacity with no sign of recognition that infinite growth is a myth, a pipe dream.
According to Gilding, the only thing humankind lacks to begin solving this problem is a truly major worldwide financial crisis . . . the kind that could be precipitated by the collapse of today’s oil and coal industries. Are we, as card-carrying members of humankind, so focused on our own navels—so not nearly as advanced as we think we are—that we need a massive, painful crisis for motivation?
Why not just skip the crisis and start solving our problems now? Sounds like a better plan to me. What do you think?
The First International Assessment of Space Solar Power:
Opportunities, Issuesand Potential Pathways Forward
Recently, a member of the National Space Society Board of Directors informed Citizens for Space Based Solar Power of the following:
“On 14 November the National Space Society (NSS) will premier the 3-Year, 10-Nation, International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) Report on Space-Based Solar Power.”
From the IAA website: “Now, more than ever, large-scale and sustainable new energy sources are needed to meet global needs while satisfying environmental concerns. . . . During 2008-2010, the first international assessment of space solar power was conducted by a study group under the auspices of the International Academy of Astronautics.” The study contains the following major sections:
2. Solar Power Satellite Systems Concepts
3. SPS Supporting Systems
4. Technology Readiness And Risk Assessment
5. SSP / SPS Policy And Other Considerations
6. SPS Market Assessment and Economics
7. Preliminary Systems Analysis Results
8. An International Roadmap for Space Solar Power
9. Conclusion: Findings And Recommendations
The following is a 41-minute presentation from the International Space Solar Power Symposium at the National Space Society 2011 International Space Development Conference (ISDC) of a draft report of the study, Space Solar Power: The First International Assessment of Opportunities, Issues, and Potential Pathways Forward by John C. Mankins (Artemis Innovation). Mankins is the Chair and Editor of the study.
It’s time to say goodbye to the original Andreas09 theme, below, and say hello to the fresh new Twenty Eleven theme. I hope this cosmetic update makes new posts and the overall site easier to read and makes it easier to get the word out about space-based solar power and all of the possibilities it represents.
NASA’s new overarching goal should be to lead the joint public-private development and deployment of space-based solar power as a baseload power source. It’s a goal that would encompass many other technologies (non-rocket launch methods, AI-based robotic assembly in space, mining of lunar and NEO resources, lunar base operations, energy conversion and transmission methods, etc.) and inspire young people get advanced educations and be a part of making the planet a better place for everyone, much like the Apollo program did.
The unique aspect of NASA adopting space-based solar power as an overarching goal is that the long-term result would be a revenue positive system owned and operated by the United States of America. We would become a net exporter of clean, virtually unlimited energy.
Prohibitive launch costs are cited as the primary roadblock to space-based solar power today. Let’s come up with an elegant solution, such as a mass driver launch system initially powered by terrestrial solar power and eventually powered by the first space-based solar power satellite. It’s a positive upward spiral. The more power available, the more payload put in orbit and assembled into additional satellites resulting in more power available … and repeat. Once such a self-proliferating system harvests more energy than it uses, the excess energy can be directed into existing or new distribution grids.
“Stanford engineers have figured out how to simultaneously use the light and heat of the sun to generate electricity in a way that could make solar power production more than twice as efficient as existing methods and potentially cheap enough to compete with oil.”
While this video from Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show is satirizing the government rhetoric regarding the need for an energy-independent America, it points out a sad trend. For generations, our politicians have paid the topic of energy independence lip service when it has been politically expedient but have done little of any substance to advance towards achieving this critical national goal.