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,” 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
- getting equipment and material from Earth’s surface to orbit quicker, cheaper, and more reliably;
- mining asteroids or the Moon for raw materials and processing them into the required end state; and
- 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.by
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.
Thanks for the recommendation!