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.
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.
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.
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.
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.