– Instead of a massive single plan, a roadmap was developed for incremental steps
– Preliminary analysis: SBSP could be possible within 10-15 years within a finite amount of money
– Could be paid for with a Jim Webb Space Telescope class investment by various governments to get a prototype system into orbit
– Key next steps to do end-to-end studies and then tests on components and systems
Towards an Early Profitable Powersat
Al Globus, San Jose State University Research Foundation
– Discusses extremely light thin-film solar cells
– 5MW system could be launched at a cost per watt close to nuclear
– Microwave (2.45 GHz/12cm) from GEO requires large antenna
– IR (Infrared) Power Beaming – 1 micron beam – ground receiver 32 meter
– Japanes Ikaros solar sail uses thin film solar cells – 45 g/m2 – 800 g/kw with 5% coverage
– One Falcon 9 launch, 4.8 tones to GTO for $56M. Leads to $11/w — comparable to $14-20/w nuclear
– With discount for purchase of 100 launches, was quoted a 3.6x price reduction
– Thin film leads to much simpler assembly
– IR power research – improved laser efficiency
– Study converting Ikaros into SSP demo
– High end markets to pay for initial systems – e.g. military bases in remote areas.
– Football field sized antennas
– LaserMotive 1 km tether climber – achieved 10 percent efficiency, 25 percent is possible today, could get it up to 40 percent
– A number of other improvements exist to make SBSP systems feasible and profitable
Dr. Philip K. Chapman, Consultant, Energy and Astronautics
Making it Happen
– Launch to LEO costs is the main challenge
– Fully reusable vehicles, economies of scale lead to $200/kg
Panel (+ Colonel M.V. “Coyote” Smith)/ Q&A
– Can use tracking for concentrators in orbit so that can compensate for cells heavier than thin film
– Not 2 or 3 orders of magnitude off from costs of ground systems as Fetter claimed. Starting to get in ballpark.
With 100s MWs or GWs, can always add on a military laser even if the power is being delivered by microwave
– Highly skeptical about Solaren’s claim of power delivery by 2016
– Good, though, that they got PG&E to establish a price point where SBSP could be sold.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
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