17 January 2010

Space Based Solar Power - Energy Source of the Future or Doomsday Weapon?

From: http://www.overidon.com/2010/01/space-based-solar-power-energy-source-of-the-future-or-doomsday-weapon/

Space Based Solar Power – Energy Source of the Future or Doomsday Weapon? Space Based Solar Power is so cool. It’s something you’d expect to see in a science fiction movie. Basically, Space Based Solar Power uses an orbiting space satellite to collect solar energy via mirrors and use  photovoltaics to convert the energy. Then the energy is transmitted to a collector on Earth via RF (Radio Frequencies) or else by laser beams. Space Based Solar Power (SBSP) makes sense because it collects energy outside our atmosphere and it doesn’t get blocked by clouds. Also SBSP isn’t really affected by the daily rotation of the earth and the time of day because it’s out in space. This type of energy generation could solve a great deal of our energy problems in the USA and for other countries as well. But this technology could easily be used as a doomsday weapon. Think about it, the Space Based Solar Power designs say that they will use mirror reflector systems that are as big a 5km each. That means a SBSP satellite could harness the power of 10 square km of pure solar power and direct that energy into a laser beam or microwave emitter. With that kind of power behind a laser or microwave emitter someone could link an orbiting system to a tracking system similar to a military version of Google Earth and fry or melt a target from space.
In spite of the very possible application of Space Based Solar Power for deadly military purposes I think that SBSP is an excellent idea. It has many positive problem solving aspects to it economically and environmentally. Click here to check out this link to the NSS to learn more about the Advantages to Space Based Solar Power. I like how the NSS says that SBSP doesn’t compete with farm-land. That makes total sense. There is unlimited room to build Solar Mirrors in space. So as long as we have the resources to build the Space Based Solar Power satellites then the relatively small receiver stations on Earth will leave room for farms or cities or natural wilderness. Another thing that the NSS brings up is that setting up SBSP is costly but it is no where near as expensive as constant military operations in places that hostile for collecting oil.
I have Some concerns about Space Based Solar Power that I haven’t seen addressed anywhere on the web. One such concern is that the current designs proposed by the NSS look thin and flimsy and they don’t look like they’d withstand an asteroid or very much space debris. So my suggestion to the designers of SBSP is that they make the construction modular and loosely connected. This way if a major asteroid hit a section of mirrors they would simply snap off instead of threatening to destroy the entire satellite and especially what I would expect to be the expensive Photovoltaic converters and the RF emitter. If part of the mirrors broke off it wouldn’t be that big of a deal because another space transport could go up and repair the SBSP satellite at a later date and it could still function albeit with less efficiency.
-Tyler

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I kinda have been expecting this in a way...
But I reali dun think da world is going to end...start a new era maybe but the world is not ending.
That's not gonna happen till a thousand years later! Ok, I'm not sure bout that either but that's not the point! The world's not gonna end! Full stop!
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