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Space-Based Solar Power Gains Momentum

Microswap_04.img_assist_custom The dream of launching satellites into space to harness the sun’s energy and beam it back to earth is looking increasingly realistic as Japan researches satellites that convert solar light into lasers, which then beams it down onto a facility that converts it into clean, usable power and U.S. companies aggressively research networks of satellite-based photovoltaic cells.

PowerSat Corp.has filed for patents that it says could overcome two of the major hurdles facing satellite solar technology. The company said it is developing technology that could link as many as 300 satellites together in space, allowing satellites covered in photovoltaic cells to beam energy to one big satellite, which would then transmit the energy to earth. The second technology would help lower the high cost of launching satellites into orbit by using solar-powered electronic thrusters to send the satellites from low-earth orbit to geosynchronous orbit 22,000 miles above the earth.

The Pentagon has studied solar satellite technology for decades, but has not aggressively pursued the program because of its high costs. But PowerSat said in a news release, “The underlying technology components are proven and systems will be deployable within a decade,”according to the Everett, Washington-based company.

One of he latest and greatest way to generate energy is to launch plates made of chromium and neodymium into orbit, which then convert 42% of solar light into lasers, which then shoots down onto a facility that converts it into clean, usable power.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Osaka University are working together to develop the device, which converts sunlight into laser-light with four times the efficiency of any previous attempt. According to a report out of Tokyo, the team is working on Space-based solar power systems, which can collect sunlight in space and then convert it into laser light, which is then transmitted to Earth and used for electricity.

The project will work by storing sunlight-based energy in plates made from a sintered powder of metals, such as chromium and neodymium. When weak laser light is shined onto the plate, the stored energy is transferred to the laser where its strength is amplified by a factor of four. In one test, a 0.5-watt laser was amplified to 180-watts by the plates. Scientists have thus far been able to garner 40-percent of the solar energy produced, and they hope to have a system ready for satellite mounting by 2030.

The project has another clear advantage over terrestrial solar projects in that it will not be subject to cloudy conditions or nighttime darkness. The device will be able to collect solar power 24 hours a day. By improving the solar-to-laser efficiency and having solar collectors from 100 to 200 meters long, they'll be able to match a 1-gigawatt nuclear power plant. At the very least, they’ll have created a giant death-ray useful for enslaving the rest of the world. If you go to JAXA’s home page there’s currently a friendly headline “Using Satellites to Save Lives”, but I’m pretty sure that’s just a ploy to divert us from their death-ray project.  Either way, should be pretty darn cool!

Posted by Casey Kazan with Rebecca Sato.

Related Galaxy Posts:

Harnessing the Stars: EU to Attempt Laser-based Fusion
Renewable Energy Not “Green”?
Green Energy -The NexGen Wave is Here

Related Blogs:

http://www.pinktentacle.com/2007/09/electricity-from-orbiting-solar-powered-lasers/
http://www.blogowogo.com/blog_article.php?aid=955889&t=
http://influencepeddler.blogspot.com/2007/09/japan-applies-to-host-next-bond.html
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/09/orbiting_space.php

Links:
http://www.jaxa.jp/index_e.html
http://www.engadget.com/2007/09/04/japanese-scientists-make-breakthrough-in-space-based-laser-power/

http://www.e360.yale.edu/content/digest.msp?id=1930

Comments

and no one thinks this might some how alter something as a result?! Hopefully tests, many tests, will be conducted before implemented...

It would be amazing if we could launch satellites into space to harness the sun’s energy and beam it back to earth.


Great theory...expensive systems however.

Launches in geosynch orbit that is an equatorial strip at some 3 earth diameter distance (or about 22,000 miles or 37,000 Km height) are rather expensive.

In case the sats are planned in the gosynch orbit (or Clarcke orbit)
there is a 'main mistake' in the article : there are NOT 24hours /day of sun illumination...this is a gross mistake...sorry but who says this is in ERROR.

Furthermore to keep the sat in orbit (due to moon attraction and other reasons) there is fuel to be expended .....another expensive load to transport the sat at 37,000Km.
Again this is cost.

Lifetime of current 'state of the art' geosynch satellites is LESS than 10-12 Years...after that time only God knows what will be the fuel-less orbit.


Regards to these visionary peoples

There are some arguments against this system, for instance, microwave radiation pouring through certain areas causing cancer & mutations over time, & the " Mad Scientist " scenario where a terrorist or group of terrorists takes control of a satellite via hacking its systems, possibly turning it into a " death ray " ( Dr. Evil would be pleased..... !! )

Other than those, this sounds viable.

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Yes, and the Laser energy loss during retransmission will be

horrendous, unreliable, deadly, and costly.

This one is already in development. Microwaves versus Lasers

http://nlspropulsion.net/Documents/MPTS_June_2009_No_drawing.pdf

fedrive:

Microwaves are better, at least they won't " zap " aircraft, other satellites, buildings, people.....

Then again, " leakage " from a microwave power transmission could cause human health hazards over time, & perhaps damage our environment almost like a laser beam. But the damage would be more cumulative over time.

ty my admin nice

hey.. claud guess u made it gross.. when a satellite hes to be launched into space 100,000ft , it has to be powered by its own angular momentum.. N even if they do need some power for relay purposes it could be done using a fraction of the solar power being produced.. it jus works out so simple.

works out lik a spinning toss tht would not be offered by any kinda resistance like say drag or even gravity..

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Yes, and the Laser energy loss during retransmission will be

horrendous, unreliable, deadly, and costly.

In case the sats are planned in the gosynch orbit (or Clarcke orbit)
there is a 'main mistake' in the article : there are NOT 24hours /day of sun illumination...this is a gross mistake...sorry but who says this is in ERROR.

Furthermore to keep the sat in orbit (due to moon attraction and other reasons) there is fuel to be expended .....another expensive load to transport the sat at 37,000Km.

Thank you! You often write very interesting articles. We have years of experience working with battery-based photovoltaics and passion for alternative energy sources.

By providing cost effective technology for the production of high quality algal biomass we hope to contribute the continued growth of an algal industry that will play a key role in a more sustainable world.

In case the sats are planned in the gosynch orbit (or Clarcke orbit)
there is a 'main mistake' in the article : there are NOT 24hours /day of sun illumination...this is a gross mistake...sorry but who says this is in ERROR.

this is a gross mistake...sorry but who says this is in ERROR.

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Nice article! I like sci-fi technology.

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