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.

Advertisements

Powering the Planet – The Futures Channel

The Futures Channel has produced a 19 minute video to assist teachers in helping students begin to gain an understanding of the science, technology, engineering, math, energy, policy, environmental factors, and more involved in making Space Based Solar Power a reality.  Students who are  informed will be able to participate in and influence the debate over Space Based Solar Power.

powering_the_planet

Source: The Futures Channel

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.

21st Century Space Race

Then

Sputnik by dan mogford Yuri Gagarin from NASA Repository JFK from LOC Archives Neil Armstrong by NASA

On October 4, 1957, a few days more than a year before I was born, the Soviet Union launched the tiny Sputnik 1 into geocentric orbit around the Earth. That event effectively initiated last century’s Space Race, resulting in the rapid development of mankind’s ability to explore outer space. Yuri Gagarin’s historic first human spaceflight on April 12, 1961 further captured the imagination of America.

Speaking to a Joint Session of Congress on May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy challenged our nation to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth before the decade was out. Kennedy later made a speech at Rice University on September 12, 1962, in which he said “No nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space.” and “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

On June 20, 1969, an Ohio farm boy named Neil Armstrong became the first human being to set foot on the Moon, saying “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” and effectively bringing the 20th century Space Race to a close.

But you know all of this already.

You probably watched a lot of this story unfold, mesmerized and huddled around a black and white television set in your family’s living room. But do you know about the 21st century’s Space Race that’s just beginning, once again with our nation behind and in a position to try to catch up? Read on …

Now

Solar Power Satellite ©Mafic Studios, Inc

Published in Scientific American in July of 2008, the article Farming Solar Energy in Space states “Shrugging off massive costs, Japan pursues space-based solar arrays”. The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) is heading up a team of over 180 scientists from various research institutes doing research in both laser and microwave based space solar power systems. “We’re doing this research for commonsense reasons—as a potential solution to the challenges posed by the exhaustion of fossil fuels and global warming,” says Hiroaki Suzuki of JAXA’s Advanced Mission Research Center.

One of Japan’s major early goals is to have in place a one gigawatt space solar power system by 2030. They are now doing the basic science to determine if the project is actually feasible. And, according to the article, while the total cost of the project will be enormous, that does not stand in the way of laying the scientific foundation for a successful deployment.

The questions to my fellow citizens, government and industry leaders are:

  1. Who is going to step forward and challenge our nation to embark on the research and development of space-based solar power, not because it is easy or because it is hard, but because of it’s potentially tremendous positive impact on the future of our nation and all of mankind?
  2. When will we launch the first, perhaps tiny, solar power satellite into geocentric orbit and receive the first solar energy collected in space for use on the Earth?
  3. Who will be the first American to set foot on a solar power satellite in geosynchronous orbit, transmitting gigawatts of pure, clean energy to Earth?
  4. Will we enter this 21st century Space Race at all, before it is too late? I hope so … I really do.

Wrote My Congressmen

After receiving an open letter from Delta Airlines this evening, I sent the following letter to my congressional representatives, via the stopoilspeculationnow.com website.

Dear Senator Chambliss, Senator Isakson and Representative Gingrey:

As one of your constituents from Marietta, Georgia, I am using the messaging function on stopoilspeculationnow.com to contact you but I won’t bore you with just another copy of their starter letter. I am very concerned and passionate about our energy future, and below I will offer a much longer term, potentially game-changing solution for your consideration.

High prices and dependency on foriegn sources for energy are threatening our economy and security and I strongly urge Congress to act immediately to take positive steps towards a secure, clean energy future for all Americans.

I do believe we need to increase domestic supply, exploration, alternative energy sources and conservation, but expanded use of domestic sources of fossil fuels must be seen as only a bridge to our energy future, not a solution. We also must protect legal commodities speculation and eliminate the possibility of any illegal or harmful practices.

For the long term future solution, I am a self-appointed advocate for the immediate and large scale development of space-based solar power. Large solar panels would be put into orbit, where they would receive intense sunlight 24/7/365. This energy would be broadcast to receiving antennas (rectennas) on earth in the form of electromagnetic radiation at frequencies that would not be hampered by clouds or dust in the atmosphere. This energy would be converted to conventional electricity and connected directly to the existing power grid for distribution.

This will be a complex and expensive engineering project with many beneficial offshoots in terrestrial alternative energy and space exploration technologies. I have much more information and many links on a website titled Citizens for Space Based Solar Power (c-sbsp.org).

While this idea has existed since the 1960’s, it is very disappointing that space-based solar power isn’t at least a part of the worldwide conversation on moving our energy outlook towards a sustainable future.

Rob Mahan
Citizens for Space Based Solar Power

Allianz Knowledge Website – Comment Posted

07/08/2008 Update: My comment was indeed published on the Allianz Knowledge website, below the article titled “Solar Energy Profile: Straight from the Source“.


This afternoon, I posted the following comment on the Allianz Knowledge website, in a section on Energy and CO2 at the end of an article titled “Solar Energy Profile: Straight from the Source“. A quote from the main website stated “Allianz Knowledge focuses on Climate Change, Microfinance, and Demographic Change. These topics are vital to our business – and to our world.” I found the website to have a great deal of information regarding the energy situation we face.

I will let you know if I hear back from the website’s editors and if they decide to publish some or all of my comment.

My Comment:

Our Sun is ultimately the source of all forms of energy we consume. Solar power is nearly a direct form, while fossil fuels took as long as 400 million years to collect and convert the Sun’s energy that they store.

I am a self-appointed advocate for the immediate and large scale development of space-based solar power. Large solar panels would be put into orbit, where they would receive intense sunlight 24/7/365. This energy would be beamed to receiving antennas (rectennas) on earth in the form of electromagnetic radiation at frequencies that would not be hampered by clouds or dust in the atmosphere. This energy would be converted to conventional electricity and connected directly to the existing power grid for distribution.

This will be a complex and expensive engineering project with many beneficial offshoots in terrestrial alternative energy and space exploration technologies. I have much more information and many links on a website titled Citizens for Space Based Solar Power (c-sbsp.org).

While this idea has existed since the 1960’s, it is very disappointing that space-based solar power isn’t at least a part of the worldwide conversation on moving our energy outlook towards a sustainable future.

Best regards,

Rob Mahan
Citizens for Space Based Solar Power

Letter to Senator Obama

This evening I submitted the following letter to Senator Obama through the Other Thoughts and Questions page on his campaign website. I will continue to contact both campaigns on the topic of space-based solar power for the duration of the election season.

I would once again encourage each of you to contact our presidential candidates and everyone else that you can think of and present them with space-based solar power. Before we can hope to see it included in anyone’s plan for a clean energy future, we must break through and make it a part of our national conversation.

Senator Obama,

I have read your plan for a clean energy future and I agree that is what our national goal must be, in very general terms. I also agree with the need for major national investment in commercial-scale renewable energy technologies and extensive research and development. I am very concerned, however, on several key aspects of your plan. A key part of your plan appears to hinge on biofuels, which depend on a huge amount of input energy, fertilizers and pesticides to produce significant quantities and often carry the unintended negative consequences to our food sources that we are now starting to see worldwide. Your plan’s emphasis on global warming remediation is also of great concern to me. I personally believe that the warming trend that is being detected is only minorly anthropogenic and the huge investments you are proposing will have only a minor effect on the trend many years in the future. Lastly, your plan’s emphasis on mandated efficiency improvements will cost the taxpayers dearly and mostly serve to facilitate an ever increasing total energy consumption. Significantly missing from your energy plan are efforts to exploit untapped domestic fossil fuel caches, which I believe we are going to need as an “energy bridge” to that clean energy future. It is going to take a huge amount of energy in the next 20 to 50 years to develop the new energy technologies and infrastructures that are required to carry our civilization forward.

I would offer a clean, sustainable and scalable solution with great potential known as space-based solar power. Large arrays of solar panels would be put in geosynchronous orbit to collect intense solar energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This energy would be transported to the surface of the planet in the form of low intensity microwave beams, where it would be collected by rectifying antennas (rectennas), converted to electricity and channeled directly into the existing power distribution grid. Once in place, the input energy required is practically nothing compared to the steady stream of clean, renewable and scalable energy output. My website, Citizens for Space Based Solar Power (c-sbsp.org), has a good amount of information on this technology and links to many other great resources and groups.

The National Security Space Office published an updated report on the feasibility of this technology in October of 2007. While space-based solar power will be a complex and costly engineering project, no major technical or scientific breakthroughs are needed. The huge increase in oil prices since then makes the business case for exploring space-based solar power that much more attractive.

I invite you to learn more about space-based solar power and strongly consider making it a key aspect of your proposal for a clean energy future.

Respectfully,

Rob Mahan
Marietta, Georgia