China plans to build and launch small to medium-sized solar power stations into the stratosphere to generate electricity between 2021 and 2025. The next step will be a Megawatt-level space solar power station in 2030.
China is considering space-based construction using robots and 3D printing technology.
The International Space Station has four sets of solar arrays that generate 84 to 120 kilowatts of electricity.
No space-based solar power has been beamed to earth.
Light-Weight Spaced Solar Power at the Megawatt Level Would Not be Hard
Alliant Technical Systems, ATK, was selected in 2012 by NASA’s Space Technology Program under a Game Changing Technology competition for development of a promising lightweight and compact solar array structure. The MegaFlex™ engineering development unit, EDU, was tested at NASA GRC Plumbrook facility this year.
Use of high-power solar arrays, at power levels ranging from ~500 KW to several megawatts, has been proposed for a solar-electric propulsion (SEP) demonstration mission, using a photovoltaic array to provide energy to a high-power xenon-fueled engine. One of the proposed applications of the high-power SEP technology is a mission to rendezvous with an asteroid and move it into lunar orbit for human exploration (the Asteroid Retrieval mission). NASA is also exploring options for future power systems for extreme environments, including near-sun environments, solar electric propulsion, and operation on the Venus surface
Deployable Space System, DSS, developed a roll-out array, ROSA, EDU that employs an innovative stored strain energy deployment to reduce the number of mechanisms and parts. The elastic structure maintains stiffness throughout deployment for partially deployed power generation. The rectangular design can be configured in many ways by either lengthening the booms, adjusting the length and width, or attaching several winglets onto a deployable backbone. Lengthening and/or shortening the booms provides power scaling without changing any of the subsystems or stowed configuration.
* four 150 kilowatt wings would be 600 kilowatts in power. The new wings are easy to deploy and do not involve astronauts.
* eight 150 kilowatt wings would be 1.2 megawatts
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.
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