Solar power has been studied and tested for nearly 40 years, but only within the last few years have we seen innovations truly make leaps and bounds. Looking towards the future, scientists are now saying that with the technology we have in development today, giant solar-powered satellites able to collect energy and shoot it back down to earth could be used to power the entire globe as soon as 2041. John Mankins, former NASA scientist and U.S. Space Agency former Head of Concepts, is credited with pioneering the theory, which is creating quite the buzz with a number of international scientists and organizations.
The plan would be to release first one satellite, followed by a series of solar powered sattelites over the equator. Each would be several miles wide and would be built to collect sunlight 24 hours a day. The energy would then be converted to electricity aboard the craft and sent down to earth via giant antennas or lasers that would feed into power grids all over the world.
The main obstacle scientists face with this project is funding. It is estimated to cost tens of billions of dollars just to fund the earth to space vehicles that would install the satellites over the equator. Scientist believe the project to be so internationally relevant that they recommend a number of governments, agencies, organizations, universities, and private donors to fund the solar satellites.
For now, Artemis Innovation Management Solutions LLC, a Californian consultant company, has received a $100,000 contract from NASA for a pilot project that will explore and test the technology on a much smaller scale.