Solar Power from Space: Moving Beyond Science Fiction

Discussion in 'In the News' started by Chuck, Oct 19, 2009.

  1. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    [​IMG] At 22,000 miles up, a geostationary satellite is in full sunlight virtually all the time.

    [fimg=LEFT][/fimg]Michael D. Lemonick - YALE - Aug 31, 2009

    This will probably will rely on manned spaceflight and NASA's recent record on that is like GM this decade --Ed.

    But there is a way to tap into the sun’s energy 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and send it anywhere on the globe: Launch solar panels into space and beam the power back to Earth.

    The concept sounds far-fetched and wildly impractical, and when the Pentagon and space enthusiasts began talking about it back in the 1960s and 1970s, it was. Recently, however, the idea of space-based solar power, or SBSP, has begun to look less like science fiction and more like a technology whose time may be coming, with the Pentagon and private companies ramping up efforts to make space-based solar power a reality.... [rm][/rm]
  2. Parasite

    Parasite Well-Known Member

    I am a BIG fan of SBSP.
  3. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    Hmmm...satellites with frickin' laser beams. I feel like maybe there are lower-hanging fruit on the great solar vine.
  4. Nevyn

    Nevyn Well-Known Member

    You mean like sharks with lasers?:p:p
  5. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    Deployed from this platform? :D
  6. Parasite

    Parasite Well-Known Member

    SBSP is one of the low hanging fruits of the Space economy, even if they are at GeoStationary orbit. {Sorry... A space joke}

    One good thing, they don't produce Shade. I bet people would be up in arms if we start to carpet over the deserts with solar panels in a serious way.

    It would be cool to have your microwave reciever on the back of your car. Recharge direct while you drive. It could extend the current ranges of electric cars as now proposed. I bet there are problems like the microwaves being too weak to keep a good charge, but it is fun to dream.
  7. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    Of course, some nations would think we are really deploying a weapon, particularly the Russians.
  8. fuzzy

    fuzzy Mild hypermiler

    I suspect that it would be rather warm, not cool, sort of like being in a low powered microwave oven.

    Keeping a dispersed microwave pattern strong enough to collect useful power for transportation, yet weak enough to meet radiation exposure limits, will be extremely challenging. More likely the beam will be strongly focused on a specific ground receiver, with no humans allowed to live nearby. The wild animals will be expected to move on through fairly quickly.
  9. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    That or Tyson would open a chicken farm there. :p
  10. Indigo

    Indigo Witch with wry sense of humor

    How about killing two birds with one stone? You could have the receiving station be part of a water-purification facility. The microwave energy could generate electricity and sterilize the drinking water at the same time.
  11. Indigo

    Indigo Witch with wry sense of humor

    I think there was a James Bond movie with that theme, hee hee ;)
  12. Earthling

    Earthling Trying to be kind to Mother Earth

    I'll open up a tin foil hat store.

  13. Tochatihu

    Tochatihu Well-Known Member

    Geostationary is not the most debris-littered orbital level but it's not clean either. These solar sats, by definition, have to be large area and inexpensive. So I predict them quickly damaged, less power output, etc. Problem is that a debris hit can generate secondary fragments.

    GEO has been the site of some spectacular collisions already. Perhaps it's better to reduce the current debris field before planning to launch new, giant 'targets'.

  14. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger


    Wikipedia says there are already tens of millions of space junk.

    On the other hand, lets launch lots of garbage and stop Global Warming! :D
  15. Doofus McFancyPants

    Doofus McFancyPants Well-Known Member

    Is the amount of solar energy loss through our atmosphere great enough to outweigh the additional energy COSTS to develop and mantain such a system?

    Read a SciFi story where they had developed a series of solar collectors which were NOT in GEO orbit - but would transmit to specific ground based stations across the globe. with enough of these Small Sats - they could deliver power 24 x 7 to several locations. Could solve the Orbital Debris issue ( have them in a different orbit plane)
  16. Tochatihu

    Tochatihu Well-Known Member

    I don't think there is an orbital level or plane inclination that is free of (anthropogenic) debris any more. One of the most regrettable debis-creation events:

    Unfortunately, that stuff is quite hgih and so won't get dragged into the atmosphere for a long time.

    Y'all know that the int'l space station has to be moved to dodge chunks one to several times per year, yes?

  17. drimportracing

    drimportracing Pizza driver: 61,000+ deliveries

  18. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    ___Besides the junk, I can just imagine one little screw up by a hit or some gyros going nuts and this thing spins off it axis even a thousandth of a degree and I do not want to be in the area.

    ___It would make one heck of a sci-fi thriller as a beam cuts a swath a few meters wide while cooking everything in its path for miles and miles :D

    ___Good Luck


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