Earth Day 2021 was celebrated with the highlighting of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) efforts to test, develop and implement space-based solar power to eliminate current supply chain risks and provide power directly to U.S. expeditionary forces.
The now ubiquitous Global Positioning System (GPS) was originally developed for military applications and has evolved into a multi-use system that is used every day by the general public. The development of space-based solar power is sure to follow a similar path into peacetime use by the entire planet.
SSPIDR is a series of Integrated Demonstrations and Technology Maturation efforts at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate to address space-based power collection and transmission capabilities.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
Here’s a link to an additional “X-37B’s Next Mission To Demo Space-Based Solar Power” article from the Breaking Defense website:
It is an age-old reality that nations must be prepared to defend their assets. This reality is the same in space, where communications, weather, Global Position System, and eventually, solar power satellites provide critical services, and must be defended.
Winston Beauchamp, the Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force for Space, and the director of the Principal Defense Department Space Advisor Staff said of the USAF’s commitment, “We have an obligation to provide, not just space resiliency capabilities for our defense space, but for this global commons.”
Thank you, Mr. Beauchamp, and your USAF colleagues, for having America’s back around the world, and in space.
On March 2, 2016, the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, and USAID director held a competition to uncover the very best ideas for improving planet Earth. Of over 500 ideas submitted, six teams were selected to present their vision for the future. The Space Solar Proposal Team won four of seven awards: Innovation, Presentation, Collaboration, People’s Choice.
Here is the winning D3 Space Solar Proposal (D3SSP) Presentation, presented by Dr. Paul Jaffe, Electronics Engineer and Integration and Test Section Head, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory:
Learn more about this winning proposal at the D3SSP website. There, you will be able to read about:
“In this issue, the Journal advances the proposition that the next generation of satellite services will be to gather sun’s energy in space and to deliver it to earth as a clean and sustainable source of electrical power. In the 21st century, the need for alternatives to the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity has become so great that space is now a real option.”
Ralph Nansen, author of ENERGY CRISIS: Solutions from Space, and former Manager of the Solar Power Satellite Program for The Boeing Company is the guest editor for this edition of the Online Journal of Space Communication.
Nellis to save $1 million annually with use of solar panels
by 2nd Lt. Jennifer Richard
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
12/4/2007 – NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFPN) — Officials from Nellis Air Force Base and SunPower Corp. are scheduled to finalize the commission of 15 megawatts in solar power to the base this month, making up North America’s largest solar photovoltaic power system. When complete, the solar power will save the base $1 million annually. (read the rest of the article here and a related article here)
Comment: Nellis to save $1 million annually with use of solar panels Congratulations to Nellis AFB, Nev., on their commitment to the clean and renewable energy source of ground-based solar power. I truly hope the Air Force and the entire Department of Defense are planning to take the next big step to space-based solar power. On Oct. 10, 2007, the National Security Space Office of the Pentagon issued a Phase 0 Architecture Feasibility Study titled “Space-Based Solar Power as an Opportunity for Strategic Security.” This study states that “technological challenges are closing rapidly and the business case for creating SBSP is improving with each passing year.” Space-based solar power is a game-changing technology which needs the Department of Defense to be an early adopter to help develop, demonstrate and utilize this unlimited source of clean energy.