Gallery: 6 Out of This World Space-Based Solar Power Designs

 

SPS-ALPHA

This margarita glass-shaped space setup is nicknamed, SPS-ALPHA - which is short for Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large PHased Array. It consists of a large array of thin-film mirrors attached to the curved surface of a massive satellite. These mirrors are moveable and will be used to redirect incoming Sunlight towards the solar cells that are fixed on the backside of the device. A collection of microwave power transmission panels is placed on the Earth-side of the array, which enables the transportation of the electricity generated by the solar cells to earth in the form of radiowaves. John Mankins, the leader of the concept says: "The needed next steps are to develop a working prototype of one or more of the modules and demonstrate the assembled system in the field. Over the next several years, the goal is to realize a low-Earth orbit flight test of the system."

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3 Comments

  1. BobboMax October 14, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    @ dclark13- It’s best to avoid technical comments if you’re not technically competent.

    The issue isn’t frequency but power density. Radio waves which are long enough to pass through most things will do just that, which makes it very difficult to harvest energy from them. Crystal radios aside, radio receivers only work because they use the radio wave as a signal, not a power source and rely on amplification to produce useful amounts of power.

    To transmit useful amounts of power requires high power density and a wavelength short enough for the receiving antenna to be of a practical size. Once you get into that regime, many objects qualify as receivers and potential toast. Think of life in a microwave oven.

    And you’re right, this has all been proven possible and plausible by ACTUAL PROFESSIONAL SCIENTISTS! They just haven’t discussed some of the possible downsides.

  2. dclark13 October 13, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    To BobboMax:

    Although it sounds like science fiction, this has all been proven possible and plausible by ACTUAL PROFESSIONAL SCIENTISTS! Not to mention, even if a terrorist agency somehow got their hands on the aiming device for it (assuming there is one), and aimed it at a city… NOTHING WOULD HAPPEN!

    It’s analogous to the radio waves picked up by your radio, they go right through people and objects without harming or affecting them at all. The reason for this has to do with the frequency of the radio waves, so even if you focused them and made them more powerful to provide energy, it still wouldn’t damage anything. So thank you for the concern, but this isn’t going to hurt us.

  3. BobboMax September 22, 2012 at 1:20 am

    ” zap the energy down to Earth by using laser beams ”
    “convert electricity into a transferable radio frequency, send it back down to Earth with pinpoint accuracy ”
    “send this energy back to Earth with powerful infrared laser beams.”
    “the transportation of the electricity generated by the solar cells to earth in the form of radio waves.”

    Does anyone else think these sound like Dr. Strangelove’s wet dreams? Even if you genuinely trusted all the governments and corporations involved in focusing these energy beams on our only inhabitable planet, do you trust the computers and technicians who’ll be doing the focusing?

    “Where stupidity is sufficient explanation, one rarely need seek further.”

    And never mind Dr. Strangelove- he was fiction. What about al Queda? And Mossad? And our own beloved CIA- it used to be a civilian organization, but now it’s run by a general named Petraeus.

    And remember Bhopal? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhopal_disaster ) Eight Union Carbide employees were convicted, but never went to prison. There was an average payment to the families of the dead of $2,200. Estimates of deaths range from 3,000 to 30,000, with permanent injury estimates ranging from 100,000 to 200,000. Just another industrial accident. The only bad part was some people had to take the fall. With SBSP, you could blame it all on a computer.

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