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:

https://www.hdiac.org/podcast/power-beaming/

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.

NASA to Study SBSP … AGAIN

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

Forbes.com article – SBSP should be a national priority

“Trump Should Make Space-Based Solar Power A National Priority”
by Bruce Dorminey, contributor, Forbes.com

Image Credit: NASA

In a recent Forbes.com article, science journalist and author Bruce Dorminey argues for the current administration to make development and deployment of space-based solar power a national priority. Read the full article here.

If President Trump were to champion space-based solar energy as a means of delivering unlimited, renewable electricity from Earth orbit, it’s arguable that his administration could leave the U.S. and the world at large with a revolutionary new source of energy.

In this advocate’s opinion, one of the most important points Dorminey makes is that ” … the fledgling space-based solar power initiative needs cohesive leadership to actively plot goals and transform it into a workable industry.” The majority of SBSP supporters have thus far focused on engineering challenges, essential to the technical “how is it done” question of space-based solar power. Two other questions, the financial “who pays for it” and the political “who gets the credit or takes the blame” must also be answered for a complete solution.

With most complex problems, the level of difficulty usually increases from the technical solution to the financial solution to the often intractable political solution. A current, complex problem to illustrate this three-pronged approach might be the ongoing battle over national healthcare. (Have even one of the three questions truly been answered yet?)

To jumpstart a U.S.-led space-based power agenda, at least three in-depth proposals for federal legislation have already been put forward:

SunSat Corporation Charter – proposed by the Space Solar Power Institute’s (SSPI) Space Solar Power Workshop, led by Darel Preble at Georgia Tech

Space Review article: Federal Legislation to Jumpstart Space Solar Power – written by Mike Snead, President, the Spacefaring Institute

D3 Space Solar Proposal – Diplomacy, Development, and Defense (D3) Innovation Summit Pitch Challenge award-winning proposal by a team of scientists led by Dr. Paul Jaffe, spacecraft engineer at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)

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 suport 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 change.org.