Today, rather than mourn the final chapter of NASA’s Space Transportation System (STS) program, I choose to look to the future of America’s continuing, global leadership as a spacefaring nation. Whether it be the establishment of a permanent lunar outpost, manned missions to Mars, mining of near earth objects, the establishment of space-based solar power satellites, or all of the above and beyond, the next chapters in America’s exploration of space will definitely inspire many generations of our citizens, both young and old.
I was under the flight path of the Space Shuttle Endeavour OV-105 this morning, as it passed over Redwood City, California. The Endeavour, atop the specially outfitted 747, had flown over the Golden Gate Bridge and was on its way to a low flyover of Moffett Field, in Mountain View, to honor the employees and their families at NASA’s Ames Research Center.
The Endeavour was built to replace Challenger, and from 1992 to 2011, flew a total of twenty-five missions. The Endeavour’s final destination is the the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California.
Every form of energy we have can eventually be traced back to the Sun. Space based solar power solves the on/off problem of terrestrial solar power, and could be delivered nearly anywhere on the planet 24/7/365. These characteristics make space based solar power a virtually unlimited, clean baseload power source.
Currently, payload launch-to-orbit costs are the single biggest hurdle to developing and deploying space based solar power. While it would be a massive and complex engineering project, no basic science breakthroughs are needed before space based solar power could be implemented.
Space based solar power is not a short-term solution to our energy needs. Domestic fossil fuel resources would provide a “bridge” to its eventual implementation … but fossil fuel will be a “bridge to nowhere”, unless we start developing space based solar power very soon.
Citizens for Space Based Solar Power*
*I’m a purely self-appointed advocate, and I have no financial stake in space based solar power. I simply believe that it will eventually be the solution to our energy future.