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)

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SBSP Article on HuffPo / Times of India

Reaching For The Sun (fair use)

In a March 9, 2016 article, Reaching For The Sun: Space-Based Solar Power Could Be The Answer To Climate Change, Namrata Goswami writes about the D3 Space Solar Proposal that won several top prizes for for the best ideas to advance U.S. Diplomacy, Defense and Development at the March 2, 2016 D3 Summit held in Washington, D.C.

About the idea of space-based solar power, Goswami writes:

Could this idea be as revolutionary as the Wright Brothers’ paper plane that gave us modern aviation? Perhaps!

In the rest of the article, Goswami does a good job of explaining the fundamental principles behind space-based solar power, and then she goes on to talk about Japan, China, and India already being heavily invested in the development of space-based solar power.

As noted in a 2008 C-SBSP post, 21st Century Space Race, our nation is once again behind, and once again in a position to catch up. It is a race we must lead, and if not win outright, at least cross the finish line arm-in-arm with our friends and allies.

Aviation Week Article on SBSP

European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) subsidiary Astrium is seeking to scale up ground based demonstrations by getting public agencies and corporations interested in funding an orbital demonstration project. The company is projecting having a 10-20KW demonstrator in orbit, perhaps on the International Space Station, within five years. Astrium engineers are focusing on using infrared lasers to beam the collected energy back to the surface instead of the more traditional microwave beam approach.

This isn’t the first time Aviation Week & Space Technology has reported on space-based solar power, but it is the first time in a while and it may signify an up-tick in activities around the world.

Read the Aviation Week article by Michael A. Taverna published in the January 25, 2010 issue here.

I’ll make my plea once again … U.S. government agencies and private corporations must get on the space-based solar power development path soon or we will be left playing catch-up once again. It seems to me that Lockheed Martin Corporation is the perfect United States’ answer to EADS-Astrium’s efforts on the European continent.

SBSP on George Friedman’s Agenda

STRATFOR’s founder and CEO George Friedman discusses the push for space-based energy infrastructure after EADS, Europe’s largest space company, announces plans to launch a test satellite with solar panels. Friedman also predicted that space-based solar power will be the planet’s primary source of energy sometime in the next 100 years in his latest book by the same title … “The Next 100 Years”.

Solar Power Satellites Issue – Online Journal of Space Communication

This Issue #16 – Solar Power Satellites is the most comprehensive set of articles I have seen in one place addressing all aspects of space-based solar power.

“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.

Japanese Engineering Groups Join Mega Space Solar Project

JAXA Space Solar Power System
Source: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency via Bloomberg

Sept. 1 (Bloomberg) — Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and IHI Corp. will join a 2 trillion yen ($21 billion) Japanese project intending to build a giant solar-power generator in space within three decades and beam electricity to earth.

A research group representing 16 companies, including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., will spend four years developing technology to send electricity without cables in the form of microwaves, according to a statement on the trade ministry’s Web site today.

An undated handout illustration (left) shows Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Space Solar Power Systems (SSPS), which beams the electricity using microwaves from space through the ionosphere, the outermost layer of the earth’s atmosphere, provided to the media on Sep. 1, 2009.

Read the rest of the article at bloomberg.com

Perhaps I should change the name of this blog to “Citizens of the World for Space Based Solar Power!”

The Commercialization of Space-Based Solar Power?

I was searching for any recent activity on Space-Based Solar Power when I simply happened on the website of Space Energy, a Swiss company with plans to commercialize the concept. Here are their Vision and Mission statements, excerpted from the Space Energy website:

Vision statementSpace Energy, Inc. intends to become the world’s leading commercial enterprise in the field of Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP) which will improve the lives of millions of people by bringing a source of safe, clean energy to the planet.

Mission statementTo develop, own, and operate the first SBSP satellites to provide base-load and emergency electrical power to customers around the globe at affordable, fair market prices.

What we desperately need now is for American corporations and entrepreneurs to apply American ingenuity and start competitive efforts so that the free market forces can forge the best Space-Based Solar Power solutions for the entire planet.

Rob Mahan
Citizens for Space Based Solar Power