“Energy and climate change are dominant issues for our customers, our nation and the world. It is imperative that we apply our tremendous depth of engineering and technical talent to solutions for energy independence, and at the same time open up adjacent markets for continued business growth.”
— Ray O. Johnson, Lockheed Martin senior vice president and chief technology officer
Space-based solar power has significant potential. After collecting the solar energy, the space-based solar power system converts it to radio frequency energy and conveys it efficiently and safely to the ground through large-aperture transmitters and collectors. This artist’s rendering of a space-based solar array shows the wide aperture delivery of the space-generated power, an important safety feature.
Another technology that is some years away but holds tremendous potential is space-based solar power. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is in the early stages of forming a program in conjunction with government and industry partners to develop a solar power system that operates where the sun is always shining — above Earth’s atmosphere. Around-the-clock access to sunshine with no weather outages, as well as the space-based system’s ability to collect solar energy before any is lost to the atmosphere, makes it potentially four to eight times more efficient than systems currently on the ground, says Rick Halbach, Space Systems senior manager. After collecting the solar energy, the space-based solar power system would convert it to radio frequency energy and convey it efficiently and safely to the ground through large-aperture transmitters and collectors. Related technology work, such as advanced photovoltaic solar cells designed specifically for use in space are being matured by Space Systems’ Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, Calif. The ATC is also working on thermovoltaics and battery technologies for space applications.