Caltech and China Racing to Space Based Solar Power

Caltech has disclosed that in 2013, Donald Bren, chairman of Irvine Company and a lifetime member of the Caltech Board of Trustees, donated over $100 million to form the Space-based Solar Power Project (SSPP). Space-based solar power will generate solar power in space and beaming it back to Earth.

Donald Bren made his fortune with real estate by building master planning communities.

The Caltech project’s first test, which will be in early 2023. They will launch technology prototypes for the solar power generators and RF wireless power transfer, and includes a deployable structure measuring roughly 6 feet by 6 feet.

Al Globus, National Space Society Board of Directors, says that now is the time for space-based solar power.

Launch costs were $20,000 per kilogram with the Space Shuttle and $5000 per kilogram from older expendable rockets. SpaceX has a cost of $1400 per kilogram with the Falcon Heavy. SpaceX will bring the cost down to $200-400 with early SuperHeavy Starship launches.

Satellites are getting mass-produced and this is bringing other space costs down. The SpaceX Starlink satellites are 100 times cheaper.

China has long range plans to develop space based solar power.

China plans to start with a small-scale electricity generation test in 2022, leading to a megawatt-level power generation facility around 2030.

Commercial, gigawatt-level power generation would be realized by 2050. This would require more than 100 Long March 9 launches and around 10,000 tons of infrastructure.

SOURCES-Caltech, NSS, Space News, LiuyiYiliu
Written By Brian Wang,