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Solar Power Satellites Urged By Pentagon

Solar power satellites, orbiting solar power collectors that beam their energy down to the Earth's surface, are being recommended in a recent Pentagon report.


(NASA solar satellite design from 1990's)

"Space-Based Solar Power as an Opportunity for Strategic Security" was recently completed by the Petagon's National Security Space Office. More than 170 scientific, legal and business experts from around the world participated.

"One of the major findings was that space-based solar power does present strategic opportunity for us in the 21st century," said U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Paul Damphousse of the National Space Security Space Office. "It can advance our U.S. and partner security capability and freedom of action and merits significant additional study and demonstration on the part of the United States so we can help either the United State s develop this, or allow the commercial sector to step up."

The report calls for the US to develop a space-based solar power station in geosynchronous orbit capable of beaming as much as ten megawatts of power to a receiving station on Earth.

The solar power satellite concept was first described in 1968, but an effective method for transmitting power with microwaves was not described until 1973.

The logical extreme of this idea was described much earlier. In his 1941 story Masquerade, science fiction Grandmaster Clifford Simak situated a giant photocell on Mercury and then beamed solar power throughout the solar system:

The control room was a wonder of clicking, chuckling, chortling, snicking gadgets. Gadgets that kept the flow of power directed to the substations on the Twilight belt. Gadgets that kept the tight beams from the substations centered exactly on those points in space where each must go to be picked up by the substations circling the outer planets.

This was really free power, easy power, plentiful power. Power carried across millions of miles on Addison's tight-beam principle.
(Read more about Clifford Simak's solar energy beam)

Read more at Report Urges U.S. to Pursue Space-Based Solar Power.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/22/2007)

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