Published on April 9th, 2012 | by James Johnson0
Scientists Want To Build Solar Power Beaming Satellite For Energy Consumption
Energy experts looking for a new source of sustainable energy have proposed power-beaming solar-powered satellites, technology that was once thought to be too expensive but could now become a reality thanks to a new approach known as SPS-ALPHA. That phrase stands for Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large PHased Array and it was revealed during the 2012 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts meeting.
The project was announced by John Mankins of Artemis Innovation Management Solutions who also happens to have 25-years of experience at NASA and Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Over the next year the team will conduct various studies on the design of the satellite while carrying out various proof of concept experiments to prove the ability of the satellite to transfer massive amounts of energy towards Earth.
Speaking to SPACE.com Mankins says SPS-ALPHA is a “biomimetic” approach to harnessing power from space, Biomimetic refers to the human-made processes, substances, devices and systems that imitate nature.
If the project is successful each satellite could beam up to thousands of megawatts of energy down to earth for everyday use thanks to wireless power transmission.
According to Mashable:
SPS-ALPHA uses a large array of individually controlled thin-film mirrors, outfitted on the curved surface of the satellite. These movable mirrors intercept and redirect incoming sunlight toward photovoltaic cells affixed to the backside of the solar power satellite’s large array.
The Earth-pointing side of this large modular circular array is tiled with a collection of microwave-power transmission panels that generate the coherent, low-intensity beam of radio frequency energy and transmits that energy to Earth.
Unlike other proposals for solar-power satellites Mankins explains that his approach does not require a larger integrated power management and distribution system, thus making the project far less expensive to build. In fact if successful the satellite will be built from individual system elements that weigh no more than 110 to 440 pounds which means mass production will be simple and cheaper than current space systems.
At this time scientists are not even sure if the project will work on a mass scale, hopefully within the next year however they will have a better understanding regarding the current feasibility of solar power producing satellites.