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.

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 change.org 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.

*** A CALL TO ACTION ***

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

 

*** ONCE AGAIN, A CALL TO ACTION ***

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.

Boeing TV Spot – “You Just Wait”

… solar satellites provide Earth with unlimited, clean power …

I literally fell off the couch when I heard these words coming from my television yesterday. I replayed this Boeing TV spot several times, with goosebumps on my arms. For the first time, I was hearing the game-changing idea of space-based solar power on national television, as a future reality.

The Boeing Company is celebrating their first 100 years in July of 2016. Congratulations on their upcoming anniversary, and on their innovative outlook for the next 100 years that includes space based solar power!

D3 Space Solar Proposal

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:

  • Problem Background & Potential Impact
  • The Big Idea
  • Ideal End State
  • Five Critical Next Steps
  • Proposed Metrics
  • Resource Requirements
  • The Proposal Team

You can also join in the discussion on the D3 Space Solar Proposal Public Group on Facebook.

AIAA Atlanta Presents “Space Solar Power – A Strategic Overview”

A friend of mine just sent me a copy of the invitation to the May 22 AIAA Atlanta Dinner Meeting, where Darel Preble, president of the Space Solar Power Institute, is going to present “Space Solar Power – A Strategic Overview”.

Image linked from the Space Solar Power Institute
Space-based solar power receiving antennae (rectenna) absorb wirelessly transmitted energy from space, and allow sunlight and rain to pass through so that the land underneath can still be utilized for farming or ranching.

I hope many of my former co-workers attend the dinner and learn about the potential of space-based solar power to be a game-changing technology in our energy future. In a partnership with Georgia Tech, Lockheed Martin seems like such a good fit for leading the United States in the commercial development of space-based solar power. They build rockets and satellites, do very large scale systems development and integration, conduct research green energy technologies . . . and they like to make money!

Lockheed Martin should be a charter member of the proposed public-private Sunsat Corporation, and lead the way to our energy future. There certainly is precedent for such a venture, e.g. the Railroad Act of 1862 and the Communications Satellite Act of 1962. I sincerely hope we don’t have to wait until 2062 to see a Sunsat Act come to fruition.

The dinner meeting will be at Scalini’s, one of my favorite Atlanta-area Italian restaurants!