Japan Proposing to Build Solar-Power Sats

A recent Japanese plan proposes to make the solar-power satellite, a long-time staple of science fiction, a reality.

C3-class Solar Flare Erupts on Sept. 8, 2010 [Full Disk]
(“C3-class Solar Flare Erupts on Sept. 8, 2010,” by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

Spurred on in part by the Fukushima disaster, Japan Has A Plan To Start Using Space-based Solar Power By The 2030s.

They’ve devised a road map that describes a series of ground and orbital stations leading to the development in the 2030s of a 1-gigawatt commercial system — which is the same output as a typical nuclear power plant. Prior to this, they’d like to set up a 100-kW SPS version around 2020.

It’s a very nice idea, and one that many of us have talked about (and written about) for years. Unfortunately, until they solve the problems of

  1. getting equipment and material from Earth’s surface to orbit quicker, cheaper, and more reliably;
  2. mining asteroids or the Moon for raw materials and processing them into the required end state; and
  3. building large structures in orbit

the idea of having a demonstration in just over 5 years — and a working model in 15! — seems extremely optimistic.

But, here’s hoping! It would be grand.

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2 Responses to Japan Proposing to Build Solar-Power Sats

  1. Conan says:

    Interesting. I just finished (yesterday) reading a sci-fi novel based somewhat on this concept using a space elevator rather than microwave downlink. Was very good — not sure how much time you have for “fun” reading, but took me basically only two days. “Pillar to the Sky” by William Fortschen.