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:

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!

CASSIOPeiA – A New SPS Concept

Ian Cash, of SICA Design Ltd, presented a new Solar Power Satellite (SPS) concept during the Space Solar Power Workshop of the IEEE WiSEE conference held in Montreal last month. Ian’s presentation is linked below. Special thanks to Elisa Shebaro of PowerSOL, who attended this conference and brought the CASSIOPeiA presentation to my attention.

The CASSIOPeiA Solar Power Satellite is “based on the principle of wavelength-scale modular integration of all major functions, from solar collection through to beam-formation.” With no moving parts, CASSIOPeiA’s patent-pending phased array permits beam steering through 360 degrees.

The ultralight helical structure maintains a constant solar collecting area directly facing the Sun. Stowed as an integrated and highly compact package, this concept offers “the enticing possibility of a fully functional SPS deployed as a single payload.” The full CASSIOPeiA white paper can be read here.

Dr. Seyed (Reza) A. Zekavat, Michigan Tech, and Darel Preble, Space Solar Power Institute, Georgia Tech, co-chair the Space Solar Power Workshop as part of the annual IEEE WiSEE Conference. Papers and presentations from recent Space Solar Power Workshops can be seen at the bottom of Dr. Zekavat’s faculty page, here.

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.

SBSP Demonstration Satellite Project Announced

On October 13, 2008, Colonel M.V. “Coyote” Smith publicly announced a plan to build the first-ever space-based solar power satellites. The vision of the plan is to light a single light bulb with power collected in space and beamed to Earth and the mission is to give students real-world experience working on solving the problems that lie in the path of developing and deploying Space Based Solar Power.

This plan includes building two satellites with launch dates sometime during 2010. One would collect solar energy and beam it back to an Earth-based lightbulb and the other would carry a lightbulb into orbit which would be illuminated from an Earth-based source of wirelessly transmitted energy.

It appears that the Air Force Academy and six other yet-to-be-publicly-announced universities will be participating in this first-of-a-kind project. I hope that Georgia Tech will be one of the universities that is heavily involved,  based on their active Space Solar Power Workshop.

Long Range Wireless Power Transmission Demonstrated

The Discovery Channel aired Orbital Power Plant on September 12, 2008. (Unfortuntely, I have been unable to find a link to original video. If you know how this show can be viewed online, please let me know.)

Orbital Power Plant was one installment of the eight part Discovery Project Earth series on ambitious geo-engineering projects aimed at solving climate change and sustainable energy problems. John Mankins, a former 25-year career scientist NASA and CalTech’s JPL, teamed up with Discovery Channel scientists and engineers to demonstrate the following technologies which are fundamental to the ultimate success of Space Based Solar Power.

  • Increasing the efficiency of PV cells with Fresnel lenses
  • Measurements of solar radiation at high altitude using a weather balloon
  • Short range wireless power transmission
  • Long range wireless power transmission

The long range wireless power transmission was successfully demonstrated between two Hawaiian islands, a distance of approximately 148 kilometers, simulating passing a power-carrying microwave beam through the thickness of the Earth’s atmosphere. While a very small amount of power was transmitted and detected, Mankins stated that only budget and FAA restrictions prevented a higher power demonstration.

You can read a complete account by Jeff Foust of The Space Review, titled A Step Forward for Space Solar Power.

1975 NASA JPL Goldstone Demonstration of Wireless Power Transmission

The June 5, 1975 NASA JPL Goldstone Demonstration of high power long distance wireless power transmission successfully transmitted 34kw of electrical power a distance of 1.5km at an efficiency of greater than 82%. At the time, it was the world record for high power long distance wireless power transmission.