Space Solar Power Being Considered at High Level

nss_logoWASHINGTON, DC (NSS PR) — The National Space Society (NSS) congratulates the “Space Solar Power D3” team on making it to the winners circle in a Department of Defense (DOD) competition to find promising new technology ideas that could simultaneously advance diplomacy, development and defense. Space Solar Power (SSP) is among only six winners out of 500 entries for the DOD’s first innovation challenge for the D3 (Diplomacy, Development, Defense) Summit.

The SSP team proposal is titled “Carbon-Free Energy for Global Resilience and International Goodwill.” Their team has won the opportunity to present to the highest-level gathering of the three departments that are primarily responsible for U.S. foreign policy.

Winning proposal briefings will be made Wednesday, March 2 to representatives of the Secretary of Defense, the Vice Joint Chief of Staff, DOD senior leaders, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the U.S. Department of State. The presentation will happen at the State Department and a live stream can be found at http://video.state.gov/live.

Space Solar Power gathers energy from sunlight in space and transmits it wirelessly to Earth. SSP can solve our energy and greenhouse gas emissions problems and provide large quantities of energy to each and every person on Earth with very little environmental impact. This will be the first time that space solar power is briefed at such a high level.

The space solar power D3 team includes members of the Air Force’s Air University, the Naval Research Lab, Northrop Grumman, NASA, the Join Staff Logistics and Energy division, DARPA, the Army, and the Space Development Steering Committee. NSS wishes them the best of luck in their presentation on March 2.

D3 team member Col. M. V. “Coyote” Smith, a professor at Air University’s School of Advanced Air and Space Power Studies, states: “When you think about what could advance U.S. diplomacy, development, and defense objectives simultaneously, what could be better than creating a source of global, constant green energy? Energy is going to be a $21 Trillion industry. Imagine if American industry was supplying green energy to the billions of people in the developing world. The studies suggest that could mean five million new high tech jobs in satellite manufacture and launch. The world of 2050 might require as much as 55 terawatts of energy. The Space-Based Solar Power resource is huge, many times the global requirement, with about 330 terawatts waiting to be tapped in Geostationary orbit alone.”

Smith continued: “A government-led demo would be the first step to retire the technical risk with commercial companies following quickly. The demo itself would have a strategic effect on our aerospace industry–generating about $5 Billion for satellite design and manufacture and another $5 Billion for the launch industry. We estimate the demo alone would generate approximately 171,000 new jobs.”

Smith added: “We’re not the only one in the game. In fact, at the moment, we’re behind in what we believe is the only space race that really matters. The Chinese have an increasingly robust program. So do the Japanese. Europe, too. But not the U.S. The Chinese proponents have it right that this is the most ambitious space project in history, and that Space-Based Solar Power will trigger a new industrial revolution and determine who will be the global leader. Space-Based Solar Power is not a competition in which we can afford to come in second.”

“Space Solar Power may be the answer to both the energy crisis and climate change,” said Mark Hopkins, Chairman of the NSS Executive Committee. “We have worked for many years to place SSP on the national and international agendas, including working with India’s former President Dr. APJ Kalam to begin a US-India collaboration. NSS is fighting for a prosperous hopeful future for all of humanity.”

In December, NSS leaders Mark Hopkins, Dr. Feng Hsu who is chairman of the NSS Space Solar Power Committee, and Dr. Don Flournoy who runs the International SunSat Design Competition that brings forward the best new ideas in SSP, traveled to China. There they met with Chinese leaders and their renewable energy and space solar power experts to establish a new initiative, the International Consortium for Space Solar Power Research and Development. NSS is also working with Space Canada to support the International SunSat Design Competition.

“We at NSS firmly believe,” says Dr. Feng Hsu, “that SSP is a viable and potentially permanent solution to address many humanity’s top challenges regarding environmental, economic or even global geopolitical issues.” He added, “SSP certainly deserves attention by the world community at the highest level. The time for a full-scale SSP demonstration and R&D program has been long overdue since the 1979 NASA-Department of Energy studies, and the time has now finally arrived for the U.S. government and the space and energy industries to take concerted actions in support of SSP.” Feng concludes, “I have no doubt that if we in the U.S. continue to ignore the great idea of harnessing the Sun’s energy in a massive and unparalleled scale from space, we will risk being left further behind by the next technological and industrial revolution to be brought about by cheap, clean and abundant energy from space!” “National Security demands that America fund SSP research,” said Hopkins. NSS has created the world’s largest online library on SSP at nss.org/ssp.

About The National Space Society (NSS): NSS is an independent nonprofit educational membership organization dedicated to the creation of a spacefaring civilization. NSS is widely acknowledged as the preeminent citizen’s voice on space, with over 50 chapters in the United States and around the world. The Society publishes Ad Astra magazine, an award-winning periodical chronicling the most important developments in space. To learn more, visit www.nss.org. Biographies for the Hopkins quote can be found at www.nss.org/about/bios/hopkins.html.

  • Larry J

    “It will be perceived as the weapon of mass destruction which it actually would be,”
    No, it wouldn’t be a weapon of mass destruction because the energy density would be too low to cause injury. I’ve seen birds flying less than 50 feet in front of a 16 MW phased array radar face and none of them were injured. The energy density of a SPS downlink would be much less than that radar.

  • TomDPerkins

    “I think Bigelow’s idea of landing an inflatable module on the moon and covering it with regolith for shielding is a better way to go.”

    But it’s not in his frustrated post-Apollo dreams of BIG-GI-Space, so it doesn’t count.

  • TomDPerkins

    “The NewSpace LEO business plan is exactly the same as the Shuttle, it is just in a cheapier, nastier package.”

    For sufficiently broad definitions of “the same” for your use of the phrase to itself be an attempt to deceive on your part, you are correct. ;^)

    A more honest one follows:

    Shuttle –> Using technology quite a bit of which we will have to develop from scratch, and an engine so highly stressed to hit the required Isp it never lets us refuel and re-fly, we will sell this as a resuable system when at best it is disassembleable and remanufacturable between flights at no cost savings, and so much a compromise between competing interests that it never has a prayer of meeting the design goals with which we sell it to Congress (RE wings on a vertical to LEO vehicle intended primarily to loft payload). Cost plus contracting and a desire to spread federal dollars as numerously and widely as possible short of project cancellation will make costs on the order of $8,000/lb to LEO acceptable indefinitely. These design compromises will result in an anticipated catastrophic launch failure rate of 1 per 50 with loss of crew.

    SpaceX –> Using nothing more exotic than the equations in old version of Sutton, we will accept lower than theoretically possible Isp in trade for re-usability and reliability, permitting us to sell access to LEO on a re-fuel, re-fly basis for most if not all of our hardware, amortizing our hardware cost as much as possible over more than one flight, with a design goal of no fewer than 10 flights per unit once the system is mature. This will permit us to offer a $/lb to LEO cost which is below $1,000/lb to LEO when the technology is mature at current launch rates. If this expands the market greatly, we will approach a low integer multiple of the fuel cost as the price to LEO per pound.

    The Falcon not being designed from the outset to kill people at an acceptable level, it’s a far prettier bird to me than the flying brickyard. SpaceX’s acceptable failure rate for manned vehicles is zero–there is no normalizing deviance in their engineering culture.

    You have to do the math Gary, to show it’s garbage.

    And you haven’t done your homework.

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    Molten salt reactors (probably without thorium) will definitely happen, and will be by a very large margin the cheapest and easiest option. Fusion either will not work as net energy devices or will be so expensive as to be useless.

    In the case of nations wishing to commit economic suicide and deny the lowest cost and maximum utility of MSR nuclear, then terrestrial solar supported by batteries will be a far cheaper and more easily deployed and managed route compared with space solar. Space solar only makes sense for space based applications.

  • TomDPerkins

    BTW, the despicable and malicious tag applies to NASA’s management, who for decades have been the sort that can say “Take off your engineering hat and put on your management hat.” and then over a decade later later conclude that since nothing could be done about a leading edge damage if it had happened–the damage should not even be assessed or mentioned so the astronauts could give a last good bye to their families.

    That’s NASA.

  • Conway Costigan

    “There is certainly no shortage of plutonium and weapons grade uranium- we can’t get rid of the stuff.”

    That is not true. NASA has had problems getting enough plutonium for RTGs because the US stopped bulk plutonium production in the 1980s. NASA’s been buying 238 from Russia, but they’ve stopped too, so now the US is starting up small scale production just for NASA.

  • Gary Church

    Thanks for proving my point;

    What they read on most of them is libertarian rants and NASA hate and are interested no more.

  • TomDPerkins

    It would be interesting if you pretended to have a counterargument.

  • Gary Church

    That was not Conway Costigan- it is a cyberstalker that has been using both Conway Costigan (me) and Gary Church (me) and posting false comments over the last week on America Space.

    Son of a bitch – looks like the NewSpace assholes really will crawl through human shit to try and silence me.

  • TomDPerkins

    So you openly admit to using sockpuppets?

    You are an utter douchebag with delusions of adequacy.

    You aren’t worth silencing–your arguments are unsupported where they aren’t either self refuting or beside the point.

    You are yourself newspace’s best friend on the internet, just by virtue of your bogus arguments against them.

  • lagrangia

    Actually , near Earth asteroids and short period comets could prove to be more accessible in Delta V terms than the Moon. Additive manufacturing using asteroidal material (
    ie metallic meteorites) has already been demonstrated in Jan 2016( Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas).

    3D Printers/Additive manufacturing techniques are already being developed to be self- replicating to a degree. The ISS 3D Printer is being targeted at replicating parts of itself, and, in time, should complete the job.
    Add to this better BLSS work– eg in Tiangong 2/ 3 in the 2020s, and lower launch/ mining costs in Commercial hands ( thanks to the new Enabling legislation enacted by Congress)- the path to utilisation of ET materials for Space development is a reasonable proposition over a 10-20 years term.

    From such an economy, large scale space manufacturing becomes an accessible goal.
    The D3 arguments (freedom from unfriendly/barbaric regimes, opportunities for billions to grow without wrecking the planet, enhanced STEM uptake by youth, and clean inexhaustible resources should please Green philosophers greatly.
    Remember that Professor G.K O’Neill was first and foremost a proto Green acting in the human interest.
    Present day Greens will have the chance to prove that they are NOT anti-humans after all, as widely perceived. They should leap at the chance!!

    BTW Elon Musk, chief proponent of commercial reduced launch costs,, like Jeff Bezos of New Origin, are VERY supportive of an effective Green future which does not beggar the human race or worse.
    In this perspective, the costs of Space Power, although presently large, are lower in many broader terms than the alternatives

  • lagrangia

    It will be interested to see how the Chinese and Japanese approach the development of SPS; MItsubishi and the Chinese Space authorities are planning demos within 10-15 years; China , developing Saturn class rockets for crewed lunar exploration, are proposing development of tech development on the CSS for a 5 GW SPS , to be followed by large scale SPS between 2030-50, partly to assume a world leadership in sustainable clean energy.

    THey are also looking to reduce launch costs with commercial collaboration, but are likely to prove far less “disruptive” than New Space. China, as always is hard headed and take a longer view than many. It will be interesting to see how it pans out. The next 12-18 months should show us what their proposects in Space might be
    Japan, too, has run a low key shoe string operation to develop RLV( similar to Delta Clipper, but funded only by an enthusiastic but ingenious Professor. Mitsubishi meanwhile is working towards an SPS demo.

    We must hope they eventually hire Professor Yoshifumi Inatani, who has worked diligently on reusable VTLV for years and no funding….
    If New Space metastasised to the East, things could get interesting!

  • Conway Costigan

    I am discussing space travel. You are using sock puppets to bully and harass people who disagree with you. Stop harassing me and let it go.

  • publiusr

    I want federal funding for SPSS–with SLS/BFR

  • Kenneth_Brown

    ” Imagine if American industry was supplying green energy to the billions of people in the developing world.”

    Hey! Where are my solar panels? I am steadfastly against my tax dollars going to send power to some other country. The developing world doesn’t have the capital to invest in space solar power and other countries would have to foot the bill where “other countries” is defined as the taxpayers in those countries.

  • Kenneth_Brown

    More like 800w/m^2 and converted with photovoltaic panels that are 20%ish efficient.

  • Kenneth_Brown

    There are some very tantalizing images of what look like cave mouths on the moon.

    Nuclear bombs certainly won’t work. That approach has been tested for excavation and fracking. The excavation test in NV is still very radioactive and the gas from the well in CO can’t be used for the same reason.

  • Kenneth_Brown

    If you are going to cover an inflatable hab with a meter of regolith, it could be easier to dig out some cubic and seal it with an inflatable membrane.

  • Kapitalist

    “Hey, we have planted mines here along the roads in the mountains where we live. Wanna go driving among our mines?”
    That is just stupid!
    Don’t go there. And take care of their f***ing mines.
    IED means anything which any child can cook together, in order to kill a passing crew. It is so pathetic that people let themselves be killed for nothing. You died while passing an IED on the other side of the Planet. Why did you commit that mistake? Did your madness actually kill yourself?

  • Armot

    It actually is 1370 W/m^2 above atmosphere. Down here, Atacama desert gets the most (average) power per unit of area on Earth: 320 W/m^2. So, SBSP will get 274 kW/m^2, while in Atacama desert, solar power per unit of area will be 64 kW/m^2.