29 August 2010

REX-J construction Robot

Japan's new REX-J robot experiment for the ISS has construction implications for Space Solar Power Satellites.  The video even shows the construction of the same sort of Hexagonal components (Powertiles) such as being pursued by Kobe University's Space Solar team.

Builds on JAXA's other wonderful video on Space Solar Power:

How Far We've Come! (Space-Based Solar Power)

Check out this presentation from Shreyankur Tripathi of Amity University, Uttar Pradesh, India, "The objective of the paper is to understand the Space based Solar Power along with its advantages, disadvantages, design and other important aspects and then finally discussing about its feasibility."

When I started looking at Space Solar Power close to 7 years ago, you could only find a very few links on the Internet...perhaps 1 on NASA, and 2 on Space.com, one on SFF, and Permanent.com.  How things have changed.  I was doing some surfing for images, and look at these beautiful NEW images and web articles:

SolarEn to capture the Sun raw in outer space
Posted by: Shaweta Chauhan | May 4 2009

Here is yet another move to meet the global energy needs. The solar power generation is not a new concept, however, placing solar arrays in space to capture the maximum energy of the Sun can be a step further. Californian utility PG & E and SolarEn corp. have joined hands to fix solar panel arrays in space. The concept is estimated to generate 200MW of power by 2016. The plant costing an estimated $2 billion will provide sufficient energy to light up 250,000 homes.
Converting solar energy in space to electricity
SolarEn proposes to launch satellite, draped with solar panels, in the Earths’ orbit 22,000 miles above the Equator. These satellites will collect and convert solar energy into radio frequencies. The RF is transferred to its ground station in California, which then converts it into electricity and transmitted through power grids to the PG&E delivery point.

Impact on Environment
The Space-based solar power plant has minimal impact on the environment. By placing the satellite into their proper orbit, natural fuels like H2, O2, etc will be made use of. When in proper operations, this power plant will have zero carbon emissions thus making the environment free from mercury and sulfur footprints. The SSP Ground Receiver Station, which converts RF energy into electricity, does not require water for thermal cooling and power generation.
The SSP plant faces technological and economic challenges before it becomes a reality.
• Getting a supersized solar array into the space is the major concern of SolarEn.
• High development cost is a major drawback of the project.
Failed projects of Space based solar power
• In August 2008, NASA launched the Nano-Sail D mission into the space, which was designed to test the feasibility of solar sails. The mission failed a few minutes after its launch.
• On 21st June 2005, the engine of Volna booster rocket (a joint Russian - U.S. project), failed minutes after its takeoff.
• In 1999, Russia launched a project similar to Volna booster from its Mir space with a sun-reflecting device. Due to some technical failure, the system burned in the atmosphere.
Read more: http://www.greendiary.com/entry/solaren-to-capture-the-sun-raw-in-outer-space/#ixzz0y218UGRx 

Plan To Transform The Moon Into a Solar Plant is Sheer LUNAcy

by Ariel Schwartz, 06/01/10
filed under: Renewable Energy, Solar Power

We’ve heard about schemes to gather solar power directly from space before, but designers at Japan’s Shimizu Corporation have taken the idea to a new level with the Luna Ring, a concept solar power plant on the moon. The plan involves building a 6,800 mile “solar belt” around the moon, beaming electricity to earth with microwaves and lasers, and setting up receiving stations on Earth where the power can then be used.

Shimizu even has a grand plan for bringing the resources for the solar plant to the moon. Humans will barely be involved–all construction will be taken care of by robots with oversight from astronauts. The company explains that, “Water can be produced by reducing lunar soil with hydrogen that is imported from the Earth. Cementing material can also be extracted from lunar resources. These materials will be mixed with lunar soil and gravel to make concrete. Bricks, glass fibers and other structural materials can also be produced by solar-heat treatments.”

Compelling ideas, to be sure, but we’d like to see evidence that any of this is possible. If we can’t get robots to fix an oil spill 5,000 feet below the ocean’s surface, how can we possibly expect them to build a gigantic solar power plant on the moon? Even if this whole scheme was proven possible, the costs would be astronomical — pun fully intended. Still, we can’t fault Shimizu for being ambitious. And while a 6,800 mile solar belt may be far-fetched, that doesn’t mean a more reasonably-sized solar power plant can’t someday end up on the moon.

+ Shimizu Corporation

Via Pink Tentacle

Read more: The Insane Plan to Transform The Moon Into a Giant Solar Plant | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World 

Mega-engineering: awesome future concepts from Shimizu Corporation
Paul Raven @ 02-06-2010 
Get yourself over to Pink Tentacle right away; they’re hosting a bunch of mega-engineering promo images and design concepts from Japan’s Shimizu Corporation, who plainly aren’t afraid to think in directions with strong science fictional undertones. Directions such as floating lily-pad cities, million-citizen pyramidal cities, space hotels… and turning the moon into a gargantuan solar power station.

This one’s the winner for me, because any image of a planetary satellite re-engineered into a solar power plant that has the words “MASTER PLAN” masked onto it in large letters is, by any sane and reasonable metric, better than pretty much any other image. Of anything.

Bonus! Compare and contrast with these images of Russian space-race installations and rolling stock decaying the middle of nowhere [via Chairman Bruce]. Maybe one day in the deeper future, people will tut and shake their heads at images of Shimizu’s lunar power station, pocked with impact damage and slowly drowning in lunar dus

PowerSat: Space Solar Flies Closer to Earth
By Jennifer Kho Jun. 16, 2009, 5:05pm PDT 1 Comment
Do you like this story?

Solar from space: It may sound like a bad sci-fi movie, but a growing number of companies think it could solve the world’s energy crisis. Among them is Everett, Wash.-based PowerSat Corp., which said today it’s filed a provisional patent for two technologies it claims could help make the transmission of solar power from space more cost-effective. CEO William Maness also told us that the 8-year-old company has received commitments for $3-$5 million in angel funding, which it’s using to develop wireless power demonstrations on Earth, and is currently in negotiations for a first venture round in the single-digit millions.

The PowerSat news comes after Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based Solaren, another space solar company, in April signed a deal to provide power to northern California utility PG&E. And Swiss startup Space Energy recently said it’s working to launch a prototype satellite into space in 2-3 years.

Solar In Space

Space solar promises virtually unlimited power, with no carbon dioxide emissions. Undiminished by atmosphere or cloud cover, the sun’s energy is five times more powerful than can be found on even the brightest desert on the planet, according to PowerSat’s web site. And since the sun shines at full power all the time, solar energy-capturing satellites — called powersats — can receive more than 25 times as much power as a ground-based system of the same size, the company says.

Here’s how space solar would work: Power satellites armed with solar arrays would generate direct-current electricity, then convert that electricity into radio-frequency energy, which they would transmit the same way that radio travels to your car. But instead of using electricity to transmit information, as a radio signal does, these satellites would be sending the electricity itself. The radio frequency would get converted back into DC electricity at the receiver on the ground.

The huge potential has been apparent for decades, but space solar faces plenty of challenges. The biggest challenge so far, says Maness, is that it’s considered a risky investment. Nobody wants to invest billions of dollars to launch unproven technology into space, but it’s hard to prove the technology works without trying it out on location. Those billions of dollars represent another major hurdle. Even SpaceX‘s target price of $500 per pound, with its Falcon 9 spaceship, is about 20 percent too high to make a commercial space-solar project viable, and other launch estimates “aren’t even in the ballpark,” Maness said.

PowerSat’s Innovation

Now, PowerSat has come up with two technologies that it claims could shave off roughly $1 billion in launch and operation costs for a 2.5-megawatt power station. The first of these is called BrightStar. Instead of one large satellite, Brightstar uses a cluster of hundreds of small ones, which work together — similar to cloud computing — to transmit the power as a group.

The second technology, called Solar Power Orbital Transfer or SPOT, uses the same solar array needed for wireless power transmission to power the electronic thrusters that boost the satellites from what’s called “low Earth orbit,” which is 300-1,000 miles up, to “geosynchronous Earth orbit,” which is 22,236 miles up. Other satellites use a chemically fueled “space tug” to get to the geosynchronous level, and eliminating that power source reduces the weight of a satellite by 67 percent, dramatically decreasing launch costs, Maness said.

The company is developing a 10-kilowatt demonstration project with unnamed potential clients. In about three years, PowerSat hopes to launch a low-earth-orbit project, which will cost about $100 million. And within five years, the startup plans to look for a partnership with a utility, a public-private partnership involving the government or an initial public offering to raise the money for a full-sized project.

PowerSat plans to launch a prototype project into geosynchronous orbit in 2015 and to reach full power production between 2019 and 2021. It expects the smallest economically viable project, with a capacity of 2.5 gigawatts, to cost between $4-$5 billion.

Raising that kind of money, even with proof in place, will be a colossal task. And a long path — the company hasn’t even raised its first single-digit million venture round, although it has closed angel funding. It’s clear that while space solar may be flying closer, it still has a long way to go.

How Do You Feel About “Space Based Solar Power”?Filed Under Tech Questions 
Tuesday, 20 October 2009 | Posted by John
That is correct.  Solar Based Solar Power is one thing that might be considered and would change everything!  I see the picture and I think to myself “what if this things is tilted 10 degrees in the wrong direction”?  Is there any possibility of this thing creating a major disaster on Earth?
The article says that “low powered beams are considered safe”, but what happens when you put your cat in the microwave?  (please do not abuse your kitty).  The technology is simple and really, it seems like a great idea, but to only support the electricity for 1,000 homes, just doesn’t seem worth it to me.
There is a receiving grid a mile wide, even that takes up too much room.  I would put the worth of the idea higher if it could power 10,000 homes.  Small cities could take advantage and maybe even help to fund projects like this.  To power only 1,000 homes, the city I live near would have to send up 50 light collectors and have a receiving area even larger to convert the light on Earth.
It is nice to see others “looking outside the box”, at least.  The ideas may seem far fetched, but at least they are in idea form.  I would like to talk to whomever thinks it’s cost effective to send up a solar collector that can only power 1,000 homes.

SSPS (Space Solar Power Satellites) & Ground Collectors

Nasa and a number of other agencies have proposed placing giant satellites in geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) to collect sunlight with solar cells. The energy would be converted to a maser beam which would be beamed to the ground to supply earth's energy needs with free, clean, sustainable energy. The basic concept of the SSPS is to beam microwaves from space. The energy would be collected by vast collectors at the ground at high efficiency (around 90%).

The basic technology is now entirely proven with satellite communication relays. The barriers to its development to high power levels are mainly associated with launch costs, a limitation that may well be overcome with BEP technology. 

Space Solar Power Satellite
Maser powered from space By concentrating on our future domestic energy supply, the proponents of SSPSs have so far failed to stress the very real potential this technology has to supply the energy needed to get the whole system into space both cheaply and efficiently. They also apparently ignore the obvious fact that, assuming BE propulsion is developed first, then the cost of launching these payloads into space could be reduced 1000x.

Enthusiasts propose placing a series of massive SSPS's (each 1km-5km in diameter) in GEO. Each 1km2 of satellite collector would receive 1.36Gigawatts of solar energy and, using solid-state technology, convert a modest percentage (~30%?) of this energy into coherent microwaves (ie a maser) to produce a near-constant 400Mw at the ground.

The higher E/D in space and the high total hours of operation, (24/7 for 99% of the year) would make a space installation 4x-5x more effective than any ground-based solar collector. The energy is also made available when other (solar-based) supplies are off line (ie in winter and at night.

When the world converts to solar, night time energy will be at a premium

Ground Power Stations

Ground stations would go hand-in-hand with the space collectors. An efficient ground reciever would be a light metal grid or netting 5km-6km in diameter. It could be situated almost anywhere on the ground below (or in shallow water) from the equator to the arctic circle. Aerial relays positioned in the upper atmosphere could also feed smaller ground arrays or extend this range, if necessary.

Space-Based Solar Power?
Labels: solar

Excerpt: The Economist (December 4, 2008)

Around the clock, 1.3 gigawatts of energy pour through every square kilometre of space around the earth. This energy could be captured by vast arrays of photovoltaic cells mounted on a satellite in orbit around the planet. These solar cells would be illuminated at all times of day, whatever the weather or the season, overcoming one of the main drawbacks of solar power on the earth’s surface. And with no atmosphere in the way to absorb or scatter the incoming sunlight, solar panels in space would produce over five times as much energy as those on the ground. (Some proposals for SSP involve large arrays of mirrors or lenses to concentrate the light onto a smaller array of panels.)

The logical place to put the satellite would be in a geostationary orbit, 35,800 kilometres above the earth’s equator, so that it completes one circuit of the planet per day, and thus appears (from the ground) to hover in a fixed place in the sky, like the communications satellites used to broadcast television signals. The solar-power satellite would send the collected energy down to earth in the form of a microwave beam, which would be picked up on the ground by a huge array of antennae, spread over several square kilometres in open country. The power density of the beam at the receiver would be little greater than what leaks out from a domestic microwave oven, so there would be no danger of incinerating entire cities. Microwave communications links are already used in the telecoms industry without doing any harm to wildlife.

Posted by Robert Volpe at Saturday, January 31, 2009

Back to Bright idea or sci-fi?
Bright idea or sci-fi?
September 09, 2009

Tyler Hamilton

Researcher Nobuyuki Kaya showed how solar power could be sent back to Earth from space using microwaves.
It sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel. Solar power plants orbiting the planet, each the size of 700 Canadian football fields, beaming clean energy down to Earth 24 hours a day so we can run our factories, charge our gadgets and keep our home appliances humming.

But for the scientists and engineers attending the International Symposium on Solar Energy from Space, a three-day conference this week in Toronto, there's nothing fictional about it. In their view, building massive space-based solar power systems represents, over the long term, one of the most effective ways of tackling the double menace of global warming and peak oil.

"Space-based solar power is a tremendously exciting prospect," said Liberal MP Marc Garneau, the first Canadian in space, speaking yesterday at the Ontario Science Centre about the potential for Canadian involvement in the project. "This country has all the fundamentals to play a leading role."

The Japanese are already leading the charge. Earlier this month, it was reported that Japan's government, working with a consortium of 16 companies, had committed to a $24 billion project to have a 1,000-megawatt solar station in space within three decades. This would generate enough electricity to power 300,000 homes, though getting the equipment into space would likely require more than 1,000 rocket launches.

Eco website TreeHugger called it Japan's "moon shot." The power station would consist of four square kilometres of solar photovoltaic arrays fixed in orbit about 36,000 kilometres above the planet's surface. Energy collected by the panels would be beamed by microwave to a receiving station back on Earth and converted into electricity before connecting to the land-based power grid.

Scientists say the advantage of putting a solar station in space is that it would face the sun 24 hours a day and would not be limited by cloud cover or air pollution. That would allow it to continuously generate power in the same manner as nuclear and fossil-fuel plants, but without the associated waste and greenhouse-gas emissions.

The idea has been around for 40 years, attracting serious attention from NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense during the 1970s, but funding eventually dried up. It wasn't until the late 1990s that interest in the concept resurfaced, partly as a result of concerns related to global warming and energy security.

Two years ago, the Pentagon's National Security Space Office issued a report that concluded solar-based power "is more technically executable than ever before."

The solar panels are more efficient and less costly to manufacture, technology exists to have robots assemble the station in space, and our understanding of wireless power transmission has improved dramatically.

Former NASA executive John Mankins, now president of the Space Power Association, said he believes space-based solar power could be economically competitive with other options.

Mankins added that he believes a small 10-megawatt demonstration plan could be in orbit within the next 10 years. "It's a reasonable time frame," he said.

At the conference, Nobuyuki Kaya, vice-dean of graduate engineering at Kobe University in Japan, demonstrated how the power could be transmitted wirelessly. Assisted by a team of students, he was able to light up a cluster of red LED lights and power a simple robot by beaming energy about 10 metres across a room.

Kieran Carroll, chief technology officer for Space Canada, which is hosting the conference, said such a system could be safely designed to accept and convert large amounts of energy from space. The trick is to transmit at low intensity by sending it down on a wide beam, about 10 kilometres across.

There would have to be no-fly zones around the area, but it wouldn't fry anyone walking through it.

"The power flux density in the middle of the (receiving) field would be perfectly safe for any life," said Carroll.

"In Canada, on a winter's day, one of the big problems would be that birds would probably hover over the field to get warm."

A reality check, however, came from power developer Wael Almazeedi, who warned of the legal, financial and regulatory challenges the plan would face, as well as the difficulty of "promoting a concept based on science fiction."

Here is a Public Policy Discussion on YouTube regarding Space-Based Solar Power at "SpaceUP DC"

21 August 2010

PCAST Public Statement on Space Solar Power

Readers of this blog know that Open.gov's #1 public suggestion for NASA, DOE, and OSTP was to hold a conference on Space-Based Solar Power   OSTP administers the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)
President Obama specifically tasked the PCAST with providing him with Energy related scientific advice, including: "But energy is our great project, this generation's great project. And that's why I've set a goal for our nation that we will reduce our carbon pollution by more than 80 percent by 2050... I will charge PCAST with advising me about national strategies to nurture and sustain a culture of scientific innovation."

PCAST recently had a meeting where Mr. John Mankins, President of Artemis Innovation Solutions gave a public statement.  

Mr. Mankins has a 25-year career at NASA and JPL, including 10 years as the manager of Advanced Concepts Studies at NASA, and was the manager of Exploration Systems Research and Technlogy overseeing nearly a billion dollar budget of over 100 individual projects and some 3000 personnel.  

Check out what he had to say about Space Solar Power:


An Opportunity for Transformation: Space Solar Power
16 July 2010

John C. Mankins President, Artemis Innovation Management Solutions LLC1

To meet the challenges of Energy and the Environment in an increasingly interdependent and competitive world, novel policies and systems concepts must be pursued. Space activities are not generally considered as relevant to these global challenges outside of Earth observing, global positioning, and the like.

However, this may be an oversight of great significance.  

A space program goal that could--if achieved--radically change the dynamic for renewable energy is that of space solar power: the capability to deliver on demand energy gathered in space to global markets almost continuously.

Unfortunately, as things now stand the US can scarcely even consider this revolutionary goal. No Agency combines the right mix of responsibilities for security, space development, U.S. energy needs, and international relations. DOE is responsible for energy, not space. NASA is responsible for space and aeronautics, not energy. And so on. And with constrained budgets no Agency is looking to add additional goals to their current responsibilities.

Also, some believe the concept of space solar power is impossible. Such views are based largely on conviction, not engineering. Not for more than a decade has there been in the US a systematic, end--to--end study of the concept, nor any meaningful R&D.

And look how far non--space technology has progressed in the past 10 years. Why should space solar power be impossible, except that it is that we have assumed it is so. Basing policies and programs on such assumptions is no recipe for innovation.  

In fact, in 2000 an independent National Research Council review committee found that space solar power was already then technically feasible and that the only R&D issues to resolve involve the question of eventual economic viability. 

The revolutionary new systems concept that could enable space solar power is that of intelligent modular systems building truly enormous future space capabilities out of many hundreds and thousands of smaller component systems. This concept applies to space the principals and architectures of networked systems from hives of bees to cloud computing.

Of course, diverse new technologies still in the laboratory must be proven for space solar power in wireless power transmission, robotics, materials, electronics, and other areas. And numerous new supporting infrastructures will be needed, including low cost launch, affordable in-- space transportation, and others. But, recall how the steam engine changed the world and it was first fabricated from known materials by adult craftsmen working in existing shops. Similar systems--level revolutions resulted from internal combustion, electrification, and heavier than air flight. Although innumerable breakthroughs followed, the beginnings of each lay in new concepts, visionary investments and focused development. 

In the same way, no breakthroughs are required to build the first space solar power pilot plants.

I believe that in a decade or less, the first space solar power pilot plant could be in orbit, delivering to people in multiple countries both clean energy, and a new vision of the interconnectedness of space and Earth. And that within a generation, space solar power could be established as a competitive green energy source in markets worldwide.

Certainly, a revolution in technology, such as space solar power is urgently needed one that would allow the US, working with others to deliver by mid century 100s of thousands of megawatts of carbon--free power to global markets.

The concept of space solar power is under consideration in several countries around the world, ranging from India where key groups and a former President have proposed an international study of the idea, to Japan where space solar power is already an official goal of the Japanese space program. This is a unique moment when the US could demonstrate critical, catalytic leadership working with friends around the world to explore an already technically feasible but fundamentally new and sustainable source of energy.

I urge the PCAST to give consideration to space solar power as a prospective national--level goal that could enhance and engage the best of U.S. government competencies, business capabilities and international relations.

Thank you for this opportunity to present these views to the Council. A copy of my oral statement to the PCAST is appended, as are extensive references on the topic of space solar power.

Appendix 2 Discussion Points for OSTP / PCAST Public Statement
Meeting the dual challenges of Energy and the Environment in an interdependent and competitive world demands novel policies and systems concepts. Space activities are not generally considered as relevant to these global challenges outside of Earth observing, global positioning, and the like.

However, this may be an oversight of great significance.

A space program goal that could if achieved radically change the dynamic for renewable energy internationally is that of space solar power: the capability to deliver on demand energy gathered in space to global markets almost continuously.

Unfortunately, as things now stand the US can scarcely even consider this revolutionary goal. No Agency combines the right mix of responsibilities for security, space development, U.S. energy, and international relations. The DOE is responsible for energy, not space. NASA is responsible for space and aeronautics, not energy. And so on.

And, some believe space solar power is impossible. However, such views are based largely on conviction, not engineering. For over a decade the US has conducted no systematic, end--to--end study of this concept, nor any meaningful R&D.

Of course, diverse technologies must be proven for space solar power in wireless power transmission, robotics, and other areas. But, recall how the steam engine changed the world and it was first fabricated from known materials by craftsmen working in existing shops.

In a decade or less, the first space solar power pilot plant could be in orbit, delivering to people in multiple countries clean energy, and a new vision of the interconnectedness of space and Earth.  

Clearly, a revolution is needed one that can enable the US, working with others to deliver by mid century 100s of thousands of megawatts of carbon--free power to global markets. 

I urge the PCAST to give consideration to space solar power as a prospective national--level goal that could enhance and engage the best of U.S. government competencies, business capabilities and international relations.

1 For additional Information, please contact: John C. Mankins; President, Artemis Innovation Management Solutions LLC; P.O. Box
6660, Santa Maria, California
93456 USA; email: john.c.mankins@artemisinnovation.com; website: http://www.artemisinnovation.com.

Appendix 1 Selected Bibliography of Relevant References Key References

Feingold, Harvey, et al, Space Solar Power A Fresh Look at the Feasibility of Generating Solar Power in Space for Use on Earth (SAIC; Schaumberg, Illinois, USA). 02 April 1997.

Glaser, Peter, Ph.D.; Method and Apparatus for Converting Solar Radiation to Electrical Power.(US Patent No. 3,781,647; U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; Washington, D.C.)
25 December 1973.

Howell, Joseph T. and Mankins, John C., Highly Reusable Space Transportation A Summary Report; Retrospective 2009 (Presented at the International Symposium on Solar Energy from Space / IAA SPS 2009 Workshop; Toronto, Canada). 8--11 September 2009.

Mankins, John C. and Kaya, Nobuyuki, A Report On The Status of the IAA Study Group on Solar Energy from Space, IAC--C3.1.1 (Presented at the 60th International Astronautical Congress; Daejeon, Republic of Korea). October 2009.

Mankins, John C. and Howell, Joseph T.; Overview of the Space Solar Power Exploratory Research and Technology Program ---- AIAA 2000--3060 (35th Intersociety Energy Conversion Engineering Conference; Las Vegas, Nevada USA). 24--28 July 2000.

National Research Council, Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, Committee for the Assessment of NASA's Space Solar Power Investment Strategy, Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, Laying the Foundation for Space Solar Power: An Assessment of NASA's Space Solar Power Investment Strategy. (National Academies Press; Washington, D.C. USA). 2001.

Additional References

Brandhorst, Henry; Megawatt SEPS and Mars Exploration(International Symposium on Solar Energy from Space / SPS 2009 at the Ontario Science Center; Toronto, Canada). 810 September 2009.

Criswell, David R., Power Collection and Transmission System and Method
(US Patent No. 3,781,647; U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; Washington, D.C.)
28 May 1991.

Commercial Space Transportation Study Team, Commercial Space Transport Study Final Report,(Distributed by W. Piland, NASA Langley Research Center; Hampton, Virginia; USA). April 1994.

Ignatiev, Alex, Ph.D., Opportunities to Employ Lunar Surface Materials in a Future Space Solar Power Economy, (Presented at the International Symposium on Solar Energy from Space / IAA SPS 2009 Workshop; Toronto, Canada). 8--11 September 2009.

Kaya, Nobuyuki; Mankins, John C.; Iwashita, Masashi; Little, Frank; and Marzwell, Neville; Hawaii Demonstation of Microwave Beam Control, supported by the Discovery Channel; (International Symposium on Solar Energy from Space / SPS 2009 at the Ontario Science Center; Toronto, Canada). 8--10 September 2009.

Kaya, Nobuyuki, et al.; Crawling Robots On Large Web In Rocket Experiment On Furoshiki Deployment (55th International Astronautical Congress; Vancouver, Canada). 2004.

Mankins, John C., Space Solar Power: A Fresh Look, AIAA
95--3653 (Presented at the 1995 AIAA Space Programs and Technologies Conference, Huntsville, Alabama). September 1995.

Penn, Jay, and Law, Glenn, Future SSP Systems Concepts: the Laser Option.
Commercial and Military Applications, (Presented at the International Symposium on Solar Energy from Space / IAA SPS 2009 Workshop; Toronto, Canada).
8--11 September 2009.

Mankins, John C., A Technical Overview Of The SunTower Solar Power Satellite Concept (IAF--97--R.2.08; 38th International Astronautical Federation, Turin, Italy)
6--10 October 1997.

Mankins, John C.; An Affordable Lunar Launch Concept: MagLifter on the Moon
(revisiting the Lunatron); (International Symposium on Solar Energy from Space / SPS
2009 at the Ontario Science Center; Toronto, Canada).
8--10 September 2009.

Mankins, John C.; Technology Readiness Levels Definitions (White Paper NASA Headquarters; Washington, D.C.; USA). 1995.

Mankins, John C.; Research & Development Degree of Difficulty A White Paper
(White Paper, Advanced Projects Office, NASA Headquarters; Washington, D.C.; USA).
10 March1998. McSpadden, James; Advances in RF Wireless Power Transmission;
(International Symposium on Solar Energy from Space / SPS 2009 at the Ontario Science Center; Toronto, Canada). 8--10 September 2009.

Mihara, Shoichiro; Fuse, Yoshiharu; Saito, Takashi, and Ijichi, Koichi; WPT Technology Demonstration Options at USEF; (International Symposium on Solar Energy from Space / SPS 2009 at the Ontario Science Center; Toronto, Canada). 8--10 September 2009.

Office of Technology Assessment, US Congress; Solar Power Satellites. (Washington DC.) 1981.

Powell, James, R., Maise, George and Rather, John, Maglev Launch An Ultra Low Cost Way to Deploy Space Solar Power Systems (Presented at the International Symposium on Solar Energy from Space / IAA SPS 2009Workshop; Toronto, Canada).
8--11 September 2009.

20 August 2010

Stephen Hawking says humanity is doomed unless it takes to the stars

From: http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2010/0812/Stephen-Hawking-says-humanity-is-doomed-unless-it-takes-to-the-stars

Stephen Hawking says that if humanity is going to survive in the long run, we must escape our planet.

British theoretical physicist professor Stephen Hawking, shown here speaking in Waterloo, Ontario, in June
Dave Chidley/The Canadian Press/AP/File
By Clara Moskowitz, SPACE.com Senior Writer / August 12, 2010

If humanity is to survive long-term, it must find a way to get off planet Earth — and fast, according to famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking.
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In fact, human beings may have less than 200 years to figure out how to escape our planet, Hawking said in a recent interview with video site Big Think. Otherwise our species could be at risk for extinction, he said.

"It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand or million," Hawking said. "Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain inward-looking on planet Earth, but to spread out into space."

Humans stuck on Earth are at risk from two kinds of catastrophes, Hawking said. First, the kind we bring on ourselves, such as possible devastating impacts from climate change, or nuclear or biological warfare.

A number of cosmic phenomena could spell our demise, too. An asteroid could slam into Earth, killing large swaths of the population and rendering the planet uninhabitable. Or a supernova or gamma-ray burst near our spot in the Milky Way could prove ruinous for life on Earth.

Life on Earth could even be threatened by an extraterrestrial civilization, Hawking has pointed out on his Discovery Channel television series, "Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking."

Dangerous aliens may want to take over the planet to use its resources for themselves, he said in the series. It would be safer for the survival of our species if we had people living on other worlds as a backup plan, Hawking proposed.

"The human race shouldn't have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet," he told Big Think. "Let's hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load."

Blogger's Note: Similar remarks were made at the NASA NEO workshop:

From: http://dimewars.com/Blog/ViewBlogArticle.aspx?vn=Stephen+Hawking+Says+Earth+Is+Getting+Too+Small+For+Humanity&BlogID=45c5bd76-b631-454a-ae14-18e83ae93435

Stephen Hawking Says Earth Is Getting Too Small For Humanity

Astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking, doesn't necessarily believe in Armageddon, but his version of the future of mankind sounds almost as bleak. In a recent interview, Stephen Hawking, who usually spends his time opining about the event horizon around black holes, took some time out to discuss how humans should prepare for their own self-induced doomsday:

    "Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain inward looking on planet Earth but to spread out into space. We have made remarkable progress in the last hundred years. But if we want to continue beyond the next hundred years, our future is in space, I see great dangers for the human race, There have been a number of times in the past when its survival has been a question of touch and go. The Cuban missile crisis in 1963 was one of these. The frequency of such occasions is likely to increase in the future."

    "But I'm an optimist, If we can avoid disaster for the next two centuries, our species should be safe, as we spread into space."

That first part almost sounds like a eulogy for mankind.

A Seminar on Planetary Emergencies covers Impact Events

From: http://www.ccsem.infn.it/ep/EP2010_Programme.pdf
43rd Session
Erice, 19 – 24 August 2010
Paul A.M. Dirac Lecture Hall – Patrick M.S. Blackett Institute
Chairman: A. Zichichi – Co-chair T.D. Lee
Chairman A. Zichichi – Co-chair W. Huebner
0 9 . 3 0 – 11. 00 SESSION N° 8
∗ Professor Walter F. Huebner
Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, USA
Progress on Defense against Potentially Hazardous Objects: An Overview
∗ Dr. J.D. Walker (and S. Chocron)
Impact Physics, Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, USA
Momentum Enhancement from Kinetic Impactors and Conventional Explosives
∗ Dr. Catherine S. Plesko
Applied Physics Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, USA
Looking before we Leap: A Quantitative Investigation of Asteroid and Comet Nucleus Impact Prevention by Nuclear Means
∗ Dr. Anatoly Zaitsev
Planetary Defense Center, Moscow, Russia
Defense Against Asteroid Danger – a Real Task of Today

Alternative Action Network

Alternative Action Network Reviews DoD's NSSO Report
New Space Solar Power Report from DoD NSSO PDF Print E-mail
Written by Arthur Smith   
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
I attended a very interesting event in the National Press Club's "First Amendment Lounge" this morning in Washington DC. It was mainly an announcement and discussion of a new report on space solar power (or "Space-Based Solar Power" - SBSP - as the report styles it), published by the US Department of Defense National Security Space Office. The morning also included the announcement of a new Space Solar Alliance for Future Energy consisting of a number of prominent space organizations that have committed to ensuring the implementation of the recommendations of the report. Being at the National Press Club, there were a number of real reporters there - we'll see what actual coverage this gets, but I think it could be the start of something very important - or at least very interesting. A full review below.

Close to 50 people filled the 13-th floor conference room at the National Press Club for the event. Included were several in uniform from NSSO, and several DoD people not in uniform including Maj. Gen. James Armor past director of NSSO, who I was introduced to later in the morning. The meeting kicked off with an introduction from George Whitesides of the National Space Society, who talked briefly about the future of energy on the planet and this particular solution, space based solar power, and its enormous potential.
Mark Hopkins of NSS then announced the formation of the new SSAFE alliance, a group of non-profit organizations that have come together to support space-based solar power; representatives from at least four of the organizations were present (NSS, the Space Power Association, the Space Frontier Foundation, and Sharespace). Hopkins expounded on the potential of SBSP: first of all it's the largest energy option, with far more power available than all the others combined. The sun puts out trillions of times more energy than the world now uses. Secondly, as the report finds, SBSP is potentially the greenest, most environmentally benign energy option. Even better in that regard than ground-based solar.
The reason for the military interest is largely strategic: we now have a dependence on foreign energy sources, many in unstable regions of the world. SBSP could turn the US into an energy exporting nation. SBSP also has the potential to greatly increase the total economic wealth of the world - with a factor of 7 or a bit more, given population growth, the whole world would have access to as much energy as the average American does now. No other energy option offers that potential for world-wide energy prosperity, and SBSP offers it in a manner that is environmentally benign.

John Mankins, president of the Space Power Association, then gave a presentation on the challenges that SBSP can address. In general, energy supplies are falling behind demand, leading to increased prices. Climate change (though he waffled on this a bit) presents a huge problem in finding carbon-neutral or "green" energy sources. In the coming century we will need to find as much energy as the world uses today in green form, not just once, but 2, 3, or more times over. And in technological competitiveness, we need to do ambitious things as a nation to renew our technological strength in all areas. Mankins led the "Fresh Look" study of space solar power at NASA 13 years ago. At the time, oil was $13/barrel, the internet bubble was attracting all available capital, and total solar installations worldwide were still well under 1000 MW (peak). In the last decade, all of that has changed.
Mankins reviewed the history of previous studies on SBSP in the United States. The initial excitement came in the 1970s, with industry and government studies. The technical barriers were believed not large, unlike fusion. However, the economics of the concept at the time did not work; there was a need for huge amounts of space infrastructure, 100's of billions of dollars before you could first see any useful output.
There was then a hiatus from 1980 to the mid 1990s. At that point, as the "Fresh Look" study found, there were fundamental changes in technology that made things potentially much less expensive. Improvements in robotics and electronics made new system concepts feasible. However the economic case was still not there, and there were some bureaucratic issues with whose "job" it was to go further, which led to a halt in progress again in 2001.
Since the "Fresh Look" over 10 years ago, innovation and progress have continued, in some cases at an even faster pace than they projected:
  • solar cell efficiencies, now over 40% available
  • software systems
  • robotics and electronics
  • light-weight materials
  • space assembly
There are now new models of how space solar power can be pursued. Broader markets are available: synthetic fuel production, for example, or addressing power to remote off-grid or unstable regions. A number of challenges still remain:
  • Exceptionally low-cost access to space is essential
  • Modular/intelligent space systems need development
  • In-space assembly
  • efficient in-space transportation
  • wireless power at larger scale
  • power generation, power management, thermal, attitude control
  • generally: mass, cost, lifetime and availability issues
But there is now an opportunity for near-term action: a large-scale demonstration is achievable within a decade, not 50 years away now.
A short video was then presented, showing a SBSP satellite system end-to-end. Video was from Kris Holland of Mafic studious; the images shown here are stills from the video provided by NSS and Mafic.

The next speaker was Lt. Col. Paul Damphousse of the USMC and NSSO. Col. Damphousse was standing in for Col. Coyote Smith who really led the project at NSSO; Smith had to be elsewhere today. It was emphasized this was a "no-funding" "phase 0" study - Col. Smith and the others involved worked on it on their own time over the past year, and all the outside advice came from volunteers using internet communications. The discussions included an open site supported by the Space Frontier Foundation at spacesolarpower.wordpress.com where anybody on the internet could provide input and see what was going on. The expert discussion was held at the same time using a closed forum hosted by Google.
Col. Smith was surprised by the level of interest. They had expected to involve only a dozen or so experts on the subject; in the end they have had 170 people involved, with past records across a wide spectrum of support for SBSP (disclosure: I was one of the "experts" in the group, for whatever that's worth...)
Having no funding may make it sound like this wasn't given much support, but NSSO officials have been quite supportive through words and actions, with acting director Rouge signing a foreword to the final (interim) report. The charter given at the start was to find out "how space-based solar power can help the United States in the first half of the 21st century". The report found it does indeed have potential to provide affordable, clean, safe, reliable, sustainable, expandable (essentially inexhaustible) energy for the people of the US, and the world.
Focus areas for the study included:
  • science and technology
  • policy and legal issues
  • logistics and infrastructure
  • the business case
The overarching conclusions were that SBSP provides a strategic opportunity for the US by potentially advancing our security, capability, and freedom of action. SBSP merits significant further study and demonstration on the part of the United States so that the commercial sector can step in. Challenges remain, and the business case does not close with present technology. The report advocates a government-led proof-of-concept program, starting in small incremental steps to a large-scale demonstrator.
Examples of incremental steps include transmitting power on the ground across, say, 200 nautical miles. Transmitting power in space, space-craft to space-craft. Beaming power from space to a ground station. Ultimately providing 5-10 MW in GEO to spur commercial development.
There is a clear need for reusable launch vehicles to reduce the cost to orbit. It needs a coordinaed national program with high-level resources and leadership on a level with ongoing efforts to harness fusion, or the efforts to build the Interational Space Station.
There is a broad interest in the program across the commercial and entrepreneurial sectors, and in other countries too. If we move to slowly or don't pursue this at all, we may easily be passed.
The scope of the study was broad; there's a need for further study, and many further questions:
  • clearer targets for economic viability in markets
  • goals for the technology demonstrator
  • selection across the fairly large trade-space; narrow it down
  • demonstrators are key
Central recommendations of the report:
  1. Organize to allow for development of SBSP
  2. retire technical risk for business development
  3. create faciliting policy, the necessary regulatory and legal environments
  4. Have the US government be an early demonstrator/adopter/customer of SBSP.
The need for incremental progress is in the size of funds venture capital can make available - 10's of millions of dollars, not 100's or billions. Real returns have to be in a small number of years for private investment.
Lt. Col. Damphousse mentioned the need for beamed power in the field (Iraq!) - beamed power would be a great benefit there. Damphousse acknowledged the work of Mike Hornichek and Pete Garretson as main writers of the report.

We next heard from Charles Miller of the Space Frontier Foundation (SFF), who led the business case - public/private part of the study. Miller stated that the SFF believes the US government should initiate a major national project on this, at least on the level of support for fusion research. The NSSO study shows the possibility of closing the energy business case for some markets within just 10-15 years, not the 50 years people sometimes talked of. The energy market is a trillion dollar/year market (just in the US). If this takes off, the Apollo, space shuttle, and ISS will look like college science projects next to the real space age it will bring about.
The reason the business case can close so soon is the existence of near-term customers who have no other option potentially willing to pay $1-2/kWh for beamed-in power. In particular, DoD field operations that currently rely on long and deadly supply chains to bring in fuel oil. They are paying more than that for electricity at some bases in Iraq now, not even including the cost in lives lost.
This military need changes the economic equation. So there's DoD interest at a tactical level just for this reason.
There's also DoD interest at the strategic level - doing this may be key to preventing future wars and disasters.
The recommendations are for reasonable and appropriate steps taken by the federal government: become an "anchor tenant", reduce the technical risks. Take other reasonable steps to reduce risks and incentivize development. Loan guarantees for instance, the same incentive that's been given to nuclear operators for years. Extend pollution offsets and renewables subsidies to this. Investment tax credits for this and for development of reusable launch vehicles.
With these reasonable steps, within 10-15 years the case will close. And some people think it will be even sooner.

Buzz Aldrin closed out the meeting - Buzz is chair of "Sharespace" in addition to his many other achievements. A little nostalgia video of the Apollo missions was his start, which he put as "what can be done with a challenge". There won't be "one small step" this time, but it is a real challenge in the objective put before us today. He was pleased the military services had seen this need, in this challenge that could really pay off in the future security of the nation. Meeting this challenge stimulates so many other areas - inspiring young people, giving us real access to space, giving us the high frontier that will let us accomplish so many other human objectives. Doing this will be a major step forward.
Aldrin has a group of engineers that has been working on reusable boosters for a long time. He's hopeful that the need for space access for a program like this could be melded with the launch requirements in the vision for human exploration that's going forward at NASA. The rate of launch needed to support the lunar or Mars program is not high enough to motivate reusability, but combined with this undertaking, the case is there.
It's our responsibility to make the investments today, not to wait till the nation needs to catch up again. These technical developments will open up the space frontier; many of us want to see that. This will mean putting more and more people in space, not just suborbital, but in orbit. That means vertical launch, high flight rates. And it will open up the solar system.
This is a solution that's not just next week, next year, not just for us; this is a solution for all mankind. Just as we went to the Moon and came in peace for all, the challenge now is to look for energy for all mankind.

There were several questions from members of the press in the audience: Question: What's the timeline?
Lt.Col. Damphousse: we can start work on the demonstration projects I outlined immediately. It's not a stretch to prepare equipment to put on the space station to demonstrate beaming, to test other components.
Charles Miller: with government support this could take off in less than 10 years with very large amounts of power starting in about that time frame. This would bring in billions of dollars of private industry investment.
Followup question: Can private industry do it on its own, or is government needed?
Charles Miller: the report goes into detail on that: there's a need for public-private partnership. Nothing is going to happen without government because you can't close the business case. If the government does the things we recommend: risk reduction, technology demo, etc. then the business case is there.
Followup question: it cannot be done without government help?
Charles Miller: that is the conclusion of the report. The business case cannot close yet without that partnership. We need government to make the reasonable steps in the report.
Question [Aviation Week]: How could the space station be used to demonstrate this?
John Mankins: the station is a tremendous infrastructure; "a new national laboratory" in space. It provides the capability to test a wide variety of devices and component technologies far more rapidly than you could anywhere else in space right now. We could use it to validate key concepts of operations: automated assembly, repair, maintenance; it could be a staging point for larger-scale demonstrations.
Followup Question: The station is in a low orbit, how would you use it to demonstrate power beaming?
Mankins: the station has about 150 kW; a few kW could be used, but it would be a low-power demo.
Damphousse: at a recent workshop on ISS this is exactly what they're looking for to put on it.
Question [Space News]: You would use the solar arrays on the ISS and tie in some sort of transmitter?
Mankins: Yes
Followup question: Does a low-power demonstration like that really show that you can scale it up?
Mankins: some of the technology can be demonstrated that way. With some of the modular concepts you could visualize having a full module scalable once you've worked out the issues with a single one, and take it directly to the next step in the cycle. If it's not so modular, there are still subsystems that can be validated that way.
Followup question: what programs does NASA have now that would accept this?
Damphousse: the National Lab workshop was collecting ideas, but he's not sure how they're delivering them to NASA leadership.
Question [LA Times]: there is skepticism in the public about space issues given the Columbia accident etc. How will you be able to sell this to the public, and convince government this is not simply a risky space endeavor?
Damphousse: the key is the demonstrators. If you can show this can work, people will rapidly believe it's viable.
A lot of supporting technologies are part of this as well. There's the importance of some cheap way of accessing space. We've had a lot of starts and stops on that. A reusable launch vehicle makes this and a lot of other projects much more reasonable. That includes this project, what NASA is doing in exploration, needs within DOD, space tourism, and more.
One way to convince the public that they have at least jokingly about: beam power from orbit to the White House lawn to light up the national Christmas tree.
Charles Miller: another element of building public confidence will be timely and meaningful progress. Design of the programmatic pursuit/partnership has to involve regular accomplishments making progress toward the ultimate objectives. Every year, or year and a half, there should be a new milestone reached. The modular systems notion should allow staged and aggressive progress toward the ultimate objectives.
Followup question: How would you explain to the public how much energy this is, how cost effective it will be?
John Mankins: you have to look at costs in terms of the markets it's displacing. The initial markets will be early adopters with high costs. The first large-scale system will be on the scale of the Hoover Dam, enough power to light a city, but it may be directed to more than one ground location where the markets are. It will be a matter of identifying the new opportunities project by project.
Question [NPR]: Why is this report recommending it be done by another agency and not by the Defense Department? Why not DARPA? Who are you expecting to read this report and take action?
Damphousse: we're looking at security in the 21st century, but we don't see it as the military's role to build it. There is definitely a military role as an early adopter, and to help retire some of the risk. We'd like to enable whatever agency takes the lead to then take it forward.
It could be DARPA should take the lead. But the Department of Energy also has a new DARPA-like component that could take this on.

At this point time was up though there were many more questions; conversation continued in private for almost another hour.