Solar Satellites Beam Back Energy
I really like the idea of having satellites in space beaming back clean energy endlessly to Earth. Also, Ben Bova likes this idea; he says that the technology to accomplish this goal exists today.
(Solar satellite in Earth orbit beams back energy)
According to Bova just one of these satellites would be capable of continually sending 5-10 gigawatts of energy, enough energy to power all of California two times over! So as not to fry birds flying by the beams would have to be spread over a wide area, so collection points would also be rather large. The ideal places for such facilities would be in large, dry unpopulated areas like the Mojave desert, or ironically the Middle East.
Bova apparently credits this idea to Peter Glaser (who among many other things was project manager for the Apollo 11 lunar ranging retroflector array) in 1968.
However, I think that I'd be more inclined to credit the basic idea to Clifford Simak, who wrote about it in a short story published in Astounding Science-Fiction in 1941. In his story Masquerade, he placed a giant photocell on Mercury (can't get much closer to the Sun!) and then beamed the power around the solar system.
...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.
So, I'm wondering if anyone can pin this idea down as earlier than 1941.
From Solar Satellites in Space Beam Endless Energy to Earth?.
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