Energy from Outer Space: A SSP Course on

This is the first of several course preview videos available at

The course author, John Clarkson, contacted me through C-SBSP to make me aware of this online course about space-based solar power. I have purchased the course and completed the 1-1/2 hours of included lectures on a broad range of SBSP-related topics. Many other learning resources are also included.

I have concluded that this course would be worthwhile to anyone seeking a solid introduction into the following topics from the course outline:

  • Space Based Solar Power (SBSP)
  • How SBSP works
  • What are its major advantages and drawbacks of SBSP?
  • Which nations are developing SBSP and why?
  • An idea of what it costs to get SBSP into orbit
  • Rockets, how they work, with some mathematics
  • Orbital mechanics and how this is relevant to SSP
  • Wider future market opportunities for SBSP, including direct and indirect markets both new and to be developed
  • Why SBSP will be an investment in the future
  • SBSP weapons – Are they feasible? Can we make them safe?
  • A wider knowledge of the economics of energy and how SBSP can change it

Energy from Outer Space on

Read more about the course author, John Clarkson, along with this and other related courses at his website, Future of Energy College.

Space Security and Space Solar Power

ISS030-E-020039 (26 Dec. 2011) — This busy night time panorama was photographed by one of the Expedition 30 crew members from the International Space Station on Dec. 26, 2011. Comet Lovejoy streaks through the star-filled sky just to the right of center. The land mass is the coast of Chile, looking southeast, with several coastal cities in the capital city region near Santiago. A 28-mm focal length was used to record the image.

“I have often suggested that given humanity’s increasing and irreversible dependence on outer space for daily human needs, space will either be safe for all or for none.”

Nayef Al-Rodhan

The future of space based solar power is dependent on solving technical, financial and political issues. Could the security of outer space end up being the most difficult issue of all? Perhaps the collective need of all humankind for a virtually unlimited source of clean energy can be the catalyst for geopolitical agreement on a peaceful use of outer space.

What will space security look like in 2021?

The article, published in The Space Review and linked above, summarizes the current positions of the United States, our allies and our competitors in outer space. In a rather ominous summary, the author asks if space will ultimately be safe for all … or for none.

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.

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:

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.


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.

Petition: The Space Review Article

The Space Review online publication has published an excellent article by Mike Snead, president of the Spacefaring Institute, supporting the USA taking the lead in space-based energy. The article also encourages citizens to sign both of our petitions to send this important message to the US Congress.

Petitioning the US to take the lead in space solar power

Human civilization has been very fortunate to have access to readily available fossil fuels to enable the industrial revolution and the rise of our modern society. However, as most now understand, environmental and energy security concerns have emerged from our substantial use of fossil fuels.

Two new petitions seek to generate public support for investment in space-based solar power development. (credit: Spacefaring Institute LLC)

Our thanks to Mike Snead for his concise and compelling arguments in favor of space-based energy, and also thanks to Jeff Foust for publishing Mike’s article and helping us to get the word out to a much wider audience.

Click here to read Mike’s entire article on The Space Review online publication website.

Click here to read more of Mike’s writing on his Spacefaring America blog.

Petition: Spacefaring Institute Releases Advocacy Video

The Spacefaring Institute has released this compelling video in support of our petition, “USA Must Lead the Transition to Space-Based Energy.”

Please share this video and help get the word out, and please sign the petition at

Petition: USA Must Lead the Transition to Space-Based Energy

Citizens for Space Based Solar Power has published the following petition, addressed to the President of the United States, the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives.

Please go to and sign this petition to send a strong message to the President and to Congress: Take these actions now to transition our nation and the world from dependence on fossil fuels to a virtually unlimited source of clean, sustainable energy.

USA Must Lead the Transition
to Space-Based Energy

Your signature on this petition will have a very real and positive impact on the United States of America and on all future generations of humankind worldwide.

If you doubt this statement, please read on.

The Current Energy Problem

The United States of America faces a looming national energy security threat due to its dependence on a finite supply of fossil fuels.

Humankind worldwide faces an environmental security threat due to its dependence on fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned.

The human desire to improve our standard of living is driving both the United States of America and humankind worldwide to consume more energy per person than ever before.

Worldwide population growth, coupled with increasing energy consumption per person, is increasing the total amount of energy required to sustain humankind worldwide.

There are no terrestrial energy sources, renewable or non-renewable, that can be sustainably scaled to meet the planet’s increasing energy requirements.

The Future Energy Solution

Sustainable, carbon emission free energy from space-based solar power (SBSP) is the solution. Simply put–and challenging to accomplish–SBSP consists of orbiting solar power satellites continuously harvesting the sun’s intense energy in space. The energy is beamed wirelessly to rectifying antennas on the Earth, and then transmitted to existing electrical power grids. Unlike terrestrial renewable energy sources, space-based solar power is nearly infinitely scalable. It is also continuous, so it can supply the planet’s baseload energy requirements.

Space-based solar power is not a new idea. Peter Glaser, an American scientist, obtained U.S. Patent Number US003781647 for SBSP in 1973. Since then, the idea has been studied extensively by NASA, other government agencies, academic groups, private organizations, and individuals. Every technology required for the implementation of SBSP exists, and they are each well understood.

Implementing the Future Energy Solution

Transitioning the United States of America, and eventually, humankind worldwide, to sustainable, carbon emission free space-based energy will require a substantial, coordinated effort, sustained economic investment, and political will. Likely to span the rest of the twenty-first century, commitment to this effort must supersede the short-term nature of two- and four-year election cycles.


Sign this petition and send the following urgent message to the United States Congress, to the President of the United States, and to future congresses and administrations:

Pass and support legislation to ensure national energy security and to protect the worldwide environment by establishing congressionally chartered public-private corporations for space-based energy, space mining, and spacefaring logistics. These corporations shall provide the United States, its allies, and trading partners with sustainable and carbon emission free space-based energy.


Challenges to Implementing the Future Energy Solution

The United States of America has a proven track record of success with large and difficult challenges, like building a transcontinental railroad, building a national highway system, and creating an extremely successful communications satellite industry.

In 1957, the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I. The following year, the U.S. Congress passed the Space Act and created NASA. In 1961, John F. Kennedy challenged our nation to claim a leadership role in space and land a man on the moon within the decade. In July of 1969, the Apollo 11 spaceflight landed Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon. The Apollo Program went on to send ten more astronauts to walk on the Moon.

Today Japan, China, and India all have active space-based energy development programs.

The main challenges to implementing a successful space-based energy industry can be categorized in three areas.

Technical Challenges

  • Several viable space-based energy concepts have been proposed. The concept for implementation must be downselected through scientific experimentation and prototype testing.
  • The safety of space-based energy, with respect to people, animals, and the environment, must be demonstrated through scientific experimentation and prototype testing.
  • Launch costs to place the required mass of solar power satellites into orbit must be reduced to improve the business case for space-based energy.
  • Advances in commercial launch capabilities, material sciences, robotic assembly methods, and other related technologies must continue to improve the business case for space-based energy.

Economic Challenges

  • The economic effort to implement space-based energy will be substantial, likely requiring a small but significant fraction of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to be invested. Initially, a return on that investment will come in the form of new industry and job creation, and spinoff technologies.
  • Sustained investment will likely be required for the remainder of this century.

Political Challenges

  • The commitment to implement space-based energy will likely span the rest of this century. This long-term commitment must supersede the short-term nature of two- and four-year election cycles.
  • A decision must be made as to whether the United States of America will solely take on the challenge of implementing space-based energy, or whether the United States of America will lead a coalition of our allies and trading partners in this effort.
  • Public opinion must be rallied to support the technology of space-based energy, and the economic and political commitments required for its successful implementation.
Resources for Learning More About Space-Based Energy

This is only a small portion of the available space-based energy resources, presented in no particular order. Additional Google and YouTube searches are highly recommended.

D3 Space Solar Proposal – 2016 multi-agency proposal for the U.S. to begin a space-based solar power program

Spacefaring Institute – Dedicated to transforming America into a true, commercial spacefaring nation

Space Solar Power Institute – A non-profit corporation organized to educate the public about space solar power

Space Solar Power Workshop at Georgia Tech – A volunteer workshop researching the details of space solar power

National Space Society – Space Solar Power Resources – A curated library of space solar power related books, articles, studies, websites, videos, and other resources

The Case for Space Solar Power – 2014 book by John C. Mankins that recounts the history of space-based solar power and lays out a path forward for its implementation

Citizens for Space Based Solar Power – A space-based solar power advocacy blog, with the goal of educating fellow citizens and influencing public opinion in favor of this game-changing technology



Sign this petition and send the following urgent message to the United States Congress, to the President of the United States, and to future congresses and administrations:

Pass and support legislation to ensure national energy security and to protect the worldwide environment by establishing congressionally chartered public-private corporations for space-based energy, space mining, and spacefaring logistics. These corporations shall provide the United States, its allies, and trading partners with sustainable and carbon emission free space-based energy.