21 November 2010

White House Adviser: US Must Prepare for Asteroid...A Close Shave...And NASA is Running Out of Money

From: http://www.aolnews.com/weird-news/article/us-must-be-ready-for-asteroid-strike-top-science-adviser-john-holdren-says/19687765?icid=main

White House Adviser: US Must Prepare for Asteroid

Lee Speigel
(Oct. 25) -- If an asteroid were on a collision course with Earth, would we be ready to defend against its destructive impact or would we be helpless and defenseless?

NASA, America's space agency, is being charged with leading the way to protect not only the U.S. but the entire world in the event of such a horrifying scenario. And a top White House science adviser says we have to be prepared.

In separate 10-page letters to the House Committee on Science and Technology and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, or OSTP, outlines plans for "(A) protecting the United States from a near-Earth object that is expected to collide with Earth; and (B) implementing a deflection campaign, in consultation with international bodies, should one be necessary."

Getty Images
The White House has asked Congress to consider how to best deal with the potential threat to Earth of an impact with an asteroid from space.
Asteroid collides with Earth
While Holdren indicates that no large asteroid or comet presents an immediate hazard to our planet, the fact that devastating impacts have occurred on Earth in the distant past is enough to warrant safety precautions for the future.

"Indeed, a steady stream of these objects enters the Earth's atmosphere on a daily basis, consisting mostly of dust-sized particles and estimated to total some 50 to 150 tons each day," Holdren wrote.

As remote as it may seem that Earth could be the target of a giant rock from space, nevertheless, Holdren insists that "the possibility of a future collision involving a more hazardous object should not be ignored."

Asteroids are rocky bodies found within the inner solar system, originating in an area known as the asteroid belt, located between the planets Mars and Jupiter.

If a large asteroid were to strike Earth, it could cause a global climate change, which many scientists believe is what caused the extinction of the dinosaurs more than 60 million years ago -- not a good prospect for life on Earth in the present day if a similar event occurred.

NASA's Near Earth Object program, or NEO, looks for and monitors asteroids that are at least a kilometer in diameter.

But, as Holdren points out, one problem in the search is that "the orbits of known objects can be changed by gravitational or solar radiation perturbations, or even collisions with other objects, meaning that periodic monitoring of known NEOs must also be conducted."

Numerous movies have depicted the devastation caused by an asteroid collision with Earth, including "Meteor" (1979), "Deep Impact" (1998) and "Armageddon" (1998).

After 12 years of cosmic hunting, NASA search teams have determined that 149 NEOs larger than a kilometer in size are in orbits that might pose a problem for Earth, but none is considered an impact threat in the next 100 years.

The White House OSTP office is working to establish plans and procedures in the event of a possible NEO threat to America.

One of those plans involves using the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in the Department of Homeland Security, to handle responsibilities on the ground regarding an NEO threat.

After an asteroid-to-Earth trajectory is determined to impact an area of the U.S., FEMA would notify the population through the National Warning System and it would begin emergency response activities.

Holdren's letter also indicates the importance of notifying other countries of an impending asteroid strike "in an effort to minimize the potential loss of life and property."

And there's the hope that, if an asteroid becomes an actual threat to our planet, a plan would be implemented to try to somehow either destroy the rock or deflect it off course.

Holdren suggests to Congress that NASA and the Department of Defense should work together to devise any strategy that would involve the military.

So the good news is that high-level discussions are on the plate as to how Earth can defend itself against the onslaught of a potential disaster from space.

The bad news: There's no plan set up yet. For the time being, we're staying out of harm's way.

Here is the entire text of Holdren's letter to Congress.

From: http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20101116/sc_space/smallasteroidtogiveearthacloseshave

Small Asteroid to Give Earth a Close Shave

Tariq Malik
SPACE.com Managing Editor
SPACE.com – Tue Nov 16, 4:45 pm ET
This story was updated at 4:32 p.m. ET.
A tiny asteroid will zip close by Earth tonight (Nov. 16) at a range much closer than the moon, but poses no threat of striking our planet or even entering the atmosphere, NASA has announced.
The asteroid 2010 WA will pass Earth at 10:44 p.m. EST (0344 GMT), missing the planet by about 24,000 miles (38,000 kilometers), NASA's asteroid-watching team wrote on Twitter. It is nearly 10 feet (3 meters wide), so small it would simply break apart if it encountered Earth's atmosphere.
NASA officials said the asteroid is a "very small space rock" that will pass the Earth at roughly one-tenth the distance between our planet and the moon, according to NASA's AsteroidWatch Twitter feed. [5 Reasons to Care About Asteroids]
On average, the moon is about roughly 238,900 miles (384,402 km) from Earth. Some of the highest satellites above Earth fly in geostationary positions about 22,370 miles (36,000 km) up. The International Space Station sails through space about 220 miles (354 km) above Earth.
Asteroid 2010 WA is the fourth space rock in as many months to buzz harmlessly by the Earth within the moon's orbit. The asteroid 2010 TD54 passed the planet at nearly the same miss distance on Oct. 12. In September, a rare sighting of two asteroids – called 2010 RX30 and 2010 RF12 – was spotted when they both passed within the moon's orbit on the same day (Sept. 8).
Like 2010 WA, those earlier asteroid flybys posed no threat to Earth and most were small enough that they would burn up in the atmosphere if they hit it.
"Still, a good practice in detection," NASA's asteroid-tracking team wrote of 2010 WA on Twitter.
An asteroid about 16.5 feet (5 meters) across can be expected to pass Earth inside the orbit of the moon about once a day, NASA scientists have said. They typically enter Earth's atmosphere about once every two years, they added.
Bigger asteroids of about 460 feet (140 meters) wide can cause widespread damage around their impact sites. But much larger space rocks would have to strike Earth to cause global devastation.
There are an estimated 30 million unknown asteroids in our solar system, NASA has said.
Asteroid 2010 WA is not even the first space rock to slip by the Earth-moon system this month.
On Nov. 9, the small asteroid 2010 VL65 passed the Earth at a range of 610,000 miles (980,000 km) – about 2 1/2 times the distance between our planet and moon, NASA officials said. That asteroid was only 23 feet (7 meters) across – small enough to burn up completely in the atmosphere – and was only visible to seasoned skywatchers with telescopes.
NASA routinely tracks asteroids and comets that fly near Earth as part of its Near-Earth Object Observations program, which uses a network of ground and space telescopes to monitor the space rock environment around the planet. To date, the program has tracked about 85 percent of the largest asteroids that fly near Earth and 15 percent of asteroids in the 460-foot class, according to the latest report.
The U.S. space agency also plans to send astronauts to an asteroid by 2025 under a space plan ordered by President Obama. The mission could help scientists better understand the composition of asteroids, as well as develop better methods of deflecting them before they pose a threat to Earth, agency officials have said.

NASA Is Running Out of Money to Monitor Earth-Destroying Asteroids (Part 1 of 2)
Michio Kaku on September 7, 2010, 11:14 PM
NASA is in a catch 22 situation.  Five years ago, Congress mandated by law that NASA should track 90% of all of the dangerous asteroids and comets that may threaten the Earth by 2020. Just last month, though, the National Academy of Sciences announced that NASA may be out of money to meet this mandate. I think it would be short sighted and unwise not to fund NASA's continued monitoring of extraterrestrial objects that could potentially destroy all life on Earth.

I go back to the perception that Hollywood has gave us all these years in the movies. Anyone who has watched films like Armageddon gets the impression that there are all kinds of tracking stations and professional astronomers combing the skies looking for these dangerous objects. Well, not so fast; in reality, most researchers are in fact amateurs who do the thankless job of hauling out their telescopes on a cold night and taking pictures of the sky and comparing it to the previous days photographs.

On July 19th, an impact mark on Jupiter was spotted by an amateur astronomer in Australia which “drew the attention of scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to the change in Jupiter’s south polar region."  NASA posted both images and explanations on their website, and stated: “Following up on a tip by an amateur astronomer, Anthony Wesley of Australia, that a new dark 'scar' had suddenly appeared on Jupiter, this morning between 3 and 9 a.m. PDT (6 a.m. and noon EDT) scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., using NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility at the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii, gathered evidence indicating an impact.“
This just goes to show that incidents like these have in fact caught us off guard where no one necessarily knew that it was going to happen. If you compare this incident to the Shoemaker-Levy comet, for example, there was warning, and it was tracked by both professional astronomers and amateurs alike. This time, the astronomical community was in a sense caught with its pants down because we only saw the end result (the point of impact) and we still don’t know if it was a comet or a meteor. The object that hit Jupiter is probably less than a mile across (if it’s similar to the Shoemaker-Levy comet). However, the fireball the was created by the impact was nearly the size of the Earth—or it least the size of the Pacific Ocean—and so it’s humbling to realize that even small objects can create enormous destruction.

For example, the Meteor Crater in Arizona was formed about 50,000 years ago and is about 4,000 ft in diameter with some areas reaching 570 feet deep and is surrounded by a rim that rises over 100 feet above the surrounding plains. Based on recent research, the impact was substantially slower than originally thought (about 28,000 mph) and itis believed that about half of the impact’s 330,000 short tons bulk was vaporized during descent before it actually hit the ground.

NASA Is Running Out of Money to Monitor Earth-Destroying Asteroids (Part 2 of 2)
Michio Kaku on September 8, 2010, 7:06 PM
So let’s now speak about the future. You may have heard about the asteroid Apophis, which is about the size of the Rose Bowl Stadium. It’s said that the large asteroid will streak by the Earth sometime around 2029. The NASA website states that “The future for Apophis on Friday, April 13 of 2029 includes an approach to Earth no closer than 29,470 km (18,300 miles, or 5.6 Earth radii from the center, or 4.6 Earth-radii from the surface) over the mid-Atlantic, appearing to the naked eye as a moderately bright point of light moving rapidly across the sky. Depending on its mechanical nature, it could experience shape or spin-state alteration due to tidal forces caused by Earth's gravity field...  Using criteria developed in this research, new measurements possible in 2013 (if not 2011) will likely confirm that in 2036, Apophis will quietly pass more than 49 million km (30.5 million miles; 0.32 AU) from Earth on Easter Sunday of that year (April 13).”
We are also amazed at the meteor showers when we are able to see them. The local news usually let’s you know when you will be able to catch a glimpse and you will find all kinds of people running outside to peer at the night sky. Perhaps one of the most famous meteor showers took place in 1833, the Leonid meteor shower (image below). This particular shower gave us several hundred thousand streaks per hour across the night sky. It was so brilliant and awe-inspiring that several religious cults can in some sense trace their lineage to the panic that was created as a result of this particular shower. So, speaking about the doom and gloom and mysticism surrounding these things, you may remember when Hale Bopp sailed through the heavens when we heard about the famed “Doomsday Cult” that believed the comet was a sign ofthe Second Coming. The cult believed that they were going to be beamed up to a flying saucer which they thought was on that comet and the members all ended up committing suicide as a result. This just goes to show that these types of things really stir deep seated fears andemotions in people.
If you caught my Second Season premiere of my show Sci-Fi Science on the Science Channel which aired September 1, you would have seen an episode called Earth 2.0 which shows that the future of the human race may be the destruction that we fear here on Earth. The episode went into detail about the process of terraforming Mars, and featured ideas from Chris McKay, a NASA research scientist and even Bob Zubrin of the Mars Society. Chris McKay of NASA suggested the possibility of building huge solar mirrors the size of Texas to melt the Martian ice caps, and I even went into detail about how we could possibly heat up Mars by shooting asteroids at the planet’s surface essentially jump-starting the terraforming process. First, the heat ofthe impact would be that of millions of atomic bombs which would heat up the surface. Second, asteroids contain frozen gases which would help to thicken the atmosphere and finally set off a runaway greenhouse effect.

15 November 2010

An International Response To Earth Threatening Asteroids

From: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/An_International_Response_To_Earth_Threatening_Asteroids_999.htmlAn International Response To Earth Threatening Asteroids

Illustration only.
by Staff WritersDarmstadt, Germany (SPX) Nov 05, 2010International decision-making will be required to coordinate a global response to deflect a hazardous asteroid from impacting the Earth.
A step forward in planetary defense is establishment of a high-level Mission Planning and Operations Group, a body that was strongly advocated during a three-day meeting of experts held October 27-29 at the European Space Agency's European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany.
The Mission Planning and Operations Group (MPOG) workshop was organized by Secure World Foundation, the Association of SpaceExplorers, and the European Space Agency.
"The workshop was an important and critical milestone in shaping both international attention and solutions to deal with a harmful asteroid that has Earth's address as its delivery point," said Dr. Ray Williamson, Executive Director of Secure World Foundation.
"We were very pleased with the outcome of the workshop and will be supporting follow-on initiatives that further spur needed scientific, technical and policy discussion to establish an international framework for planetary defense," Williamson said.
Planetary DefenseThe workshop brought together for the first time space agencies to discuss the future deflection of a hazardous asteroid, said former shuttle astronaut, Tom Jones, Chair of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) Committee on Near-Earth Objects.
"Representatives from NASA and the European Space Agency, facilitated by Secure World Foundation and the Association of Space Explorers, talked substantively about how their programs could be coordinated to gather important planetary defense knowledge about asteroids, what asteroid research is needed to facilitate deflection planning, how space agencies should demonstrate asteroid deflection technologies, and when future planning meetings should take place," Jones said.
Leading international authorities on planetary defense, space situational awareness, as well as orbital debris, along with astronauts and spacescientists, took part in the workshop. It was the latest in a series of meetings organized to report to the United Nations Action Team-14, a group within the UN's Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Scientific and Technical Subcommittee established in 2001 for the purposes of addressing the asteroid impact threat.
"The workshop series is focusing on plans and recommendations for global coordination and response in the event that an asteroid or other object is found to pose an impact threat to Earth," explained workshop coordinator, Detlef Koschny from the European Space Agency.
Global warning and technical analysisTaking a leading role in the workshop was Sergio Camacho, spacescience researcher, former Director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs and now Secretary General of the Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education for Latin America and the Caribbean (CRECTEALC).
Camacho assisted in defining future planning tasks and studies for the MPOG that will later be merged with findings of other experts to create a final report to the UN committee. Such a report will recommend how to react to an impact threat from a Near Earth Object, or NEO.
Earlier this year, a workshop organized by Secure World Foundation in coordination with the Association of Space Explorers and CRECTEALC was hosted by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mexico City.
Participants in that interdisciplinary workshop considered the challenges and problems that a future Information Analysis and Warning Network (IAWN) would face in providing global warning and technical analysis regarding an Earth-threatening asteroid.
Big first stepThe recently held workshop in Darmstadt, Germany "was a big first step on the operations side, bringing together countries that have deep spaceexperience and can actually execute an asteroid deflection," said ASE's Jones.
"NASA and the European Space Agency both expressed high interest in working together to solve the technical problems ahead, and I hope they will be joined by the many other space agencies with their additional talents and resources," Jones said.
ASE's international community of space fliers, Jones added, "applauds the agencies' participation in MPOG, and looks forward to assisting in getting the message out that global cooperation can take on this very preventable natural hazard."

14 November 2010

Press picks up NSS-Kalam Initiative

Now the President Obama has left, and provided an impressive speech to parliament  and the two countries produced an affirming Joint Statement:

The Obama administration is definitely on the right track with India, going all the right vectors on Space, Defense, Climate Change, Nuclear and Renewable energy, and it is unfortunate the administration was not bold enough to tie it all together and include the truly visionary concept of Space-Based Solar Power.  Perhaps some smart individual will put it on the 2011 Civil Space Joint Working Group.

The news of the Kalam-NSS initiative is getting out, appearing online in a number of important places:
NSS-Kalam Energy Initiative
The Wall Street Journal: http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2010/11/08/india-digest-india-america-join-hands-to-harness-solar-power/
Times of India: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-America-join-hands-to-harness-solar-power/articleshow/6886049.cms
MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40092675/
Yahoo News: http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20101109/sc_space/undernewplansatellitestobeamsolarpowerdownfromspace
Kurzweil AI: http://www.kurzweilai.net/former-president-of-india-wants-to-beam-energy-from-space
Aviation Week: http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/asd/2010/11/05/04.xml&channel=space
NASA Watch/SpaceRef: http://www.spaceref.com/calendar/calendar.html?pid=6202
Parabolic Arc: http://www.parabolicarc.com/2010/11/04/kalamnss-initiative-aimed-producing-cheap-clean-power-space/
Deccan Herald: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/109675/kalam-nss-initiative-tap-solar.html
Renewable Power News: http://www.renewablepowernews.com/archives/1945
The Space Review: http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1721/1
Space Politics: http://www.spacepolitics.com/2010/11/07/us-and-india-in-space-and-space-solar-power/
Ecopoliticology: http://ecopolitology.org/2010/11/10/us-india-launch-space-based-solar-energy-initiative/
Energy Matters: http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=1163
Third Age: http://www.thirdage.com/news/india-and-us-harvest-solar-power-space_11-7-2010
The Center for New American Security: http://www.cnas.org/blogs/naturalsecurity/2010/11/us-india-cooperation-space-next-frontier.html

An important commentary comes from one of India's space experts, Ajey Lele at IDSA:

From: http://www.idsa.in/idsacomments/KalamNSSIndianAmericanEnergyInitiative_alele_091110
Kalam-NSS Indian-American Energy Initiative
Ajey Lele

November 9, 2010
During his maiden visit to India, President Barack Obama has cleared the air on the issue of ‘outsourcing of jobs to Indians’. He also announced that various deals with India worth US$ 10 billion are likely to generate about 50,000 jobs in the US in the coming few years, giving indications that India is actually not a job snatcher but a job creator! While the tempo of the Obama visit has been raised in India by highlighting various aspects of Indo-US relations, one silent revolution which is expected to generate many jobs in both countries has almost gone unnoticed. On 4 November 2010, in a press conference at Washington D.C., details of the ‘Kalam-NSS Indian-American Energy Initiative’ – a joint US-Indian endeavour intended to build clean space-based solar power satellites – were announced.

Interestingly, this unique initiative is not an initiative between the two countries, nor it is a commercial venture. It also does not follow a public-private partnership model. It is a plan formulated by a former head of state and a US-based non-profit organization – India's former President Dr. A.P.J. Kalam and the US National Space Society (NSS). This initiative is important not only because it is expected to offer alternative energy solutions, but the technology promises a cheap and clean energy source. Particularly, with Mr. Obama announcing the end of the technology denial regime against Indian entities such as DRDO and ISRO, it is expected that this endeavour would progress without any ‘administrative’ glitches.

The Kalam-NSS Indian-American Energy Initiative is being conceptualized by individuals with vast experience in the field of space technologies as well as policy planning. Dr. Kalam is a rocket scientist of repute and has vast experience in developing various major projects for the Indian state. The co-principal investor from the United States, Mr. John Mankins, is president of the Space Power Association and a former exploration chief technologist at NASA. In this project there is no direct involvement of NASA. However, there is some support visible from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The co-principal investigator is Mr. T.K. Alex who is currently the Director of ISRO’s Satellite Centre and was the leader of India’s first moon mission, the Chandrayan-1.

According to Dr. Kalam it could take around 15 years for the completion of this project. India with its proven expertise in launching satellites could help to bring down the cost of satellites. It may be premature to talk with certitude about the cost effectiveness of this project. However, the group is convinced that space solar power would be affordable in the long run. It has been claimed that the cost of energy could be 10 cents per kilowatt hour (approximately Rs. 4.30). Electricity generated from coal, believed to be the cheapest form of energy, costs around Rs 3.30 per kilowatt hour.

Global electricity demand is expected to increase by 87 per cent around 2035. It is believed that by 2050 the world may not be able to fulfil overall energy requirements in spite of using every available energy resource. Proponents of this technology and the initiative like Mr. Mark Hopkins, the CEO of the National Space Society, view this as a “game-changing technology that addresses energy security, sustainable development, climate change, and multinational cooperation.” The concept of Space Based Solar Power (SBSP) or Space Solar Power (SSP) is a four decade old concept. Since the early 1970s scientists have been working on this concept with varying degrees of success. Lack of finding and political will is the main reason for inadequate development of this technology, which involves the collection of solar power from space and its use on earth. For this purpose the energy would be trapped in space with the help of satellites and would be subsequently transferred to earth. Catching energy in space is important to reduce the losses suffered in the process of its transfer to earth. For this purpose the space system converts sunlight to microwaves outside the earth’s atmosphere.

To decide the basic roadmap for this work, on May 18-22, 2011 a bilateral conference is scheduled to be held at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama where top scientists from both countries are expected to debate this issue in detail. It is expected that the first phase of this initiative could last for one year during which a preliminary pre-feasibility study would be carried out. The second phase which could last for more than half a decade would involve a range of targeted technology and engineering demonstrations on ground. The penultimate state is expected to deliver the pilot project and the last stage involves completion and implementation of the actual project where the common man as well industry start using the SSP. The details of this project are available at the web link http://www.nss.org/settlement/ssp/library/KALAM-NSS-Initiative.pdf.

Countries like Japan have already taken a lead in this field. They have identified both near term and long term objectives for developing the SSP Programme. It is expected that they may succeeded in developing an operational system within the next five or more years. It is important for the US and India to engage Japan in this field.

But developing mega projects like the SSP are mostly viewed with mistrust by many. It is felt that successful completion of such ‘ostentatious’ ideas is not possible and more importantly such projects are huge money-spinners. In the past various inventions/ideas have been held back because of lack of public and political support. However, the energy needs of 21st century demand scrutiny of every possible option and space based solar power offers one such.

See also discussion here at Defence Forum of India:

Now Obama was expected to
The United States and India will announce during Obama's trip the creation of a center for joint cooperation on developing clean energy, including solar power and biofuels, according to two people familiar with the plan.

Excerpts from: http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1721/1

Mankins said the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) is completing a study on SBSP, due out next spring. That study is looking at three SBSP concepts with the idea of not transmitting power to a single fixed point on the Earth, as was planned in the original 1970s concepts, but instead be able to transmit to any number of locations “in order to satisfy optimum market conditions.”

The finding of the study group—still undergoing peer review, Mankins said—is that with a new technology roadmap a pilot SBSP system could be relatively affordable. “Within 10 to 15 years, a pilot plant, delivering megawatts of power, could in fact be realizable within a finite amount of budget,” he said, with “finite” meaning $5–10 billion. “It’s not trivial—it’s a big effort—but it’s not an impossible amount of money.”

A James Webb Space Telescope-class investment by the international community, both industry and space agencies, could in fact realize a subscale but operationally scalable multi-megawatt solar power satellite demo within 7 to 15 years,” he concluded.
For far less it may be possible to demonstrate one of the key technologies of SBSP, transmitting power from space to the Earth. Asked how much it would cost to fly a satellite that could beam a token amount of power—enough to perhaps power a single light bulb—Mankins said that a “quick and dirty demo” using off-the-shelf technology could cost $1–10 million. A more robust demonstration using technologies on the path towards larger SBSP systems would cost somewhat more: $20–50 million.
However, just as technologies have advanced during the last three decades, so have the capabilities—and energy needs—of other nations, opening up opportunities for cooperation not envisioned three decades ago.

One example formally announced at a Washington, DC, press conference on Thursday by the National Space Society is the Kalam-NSS Energy Initiative. The project is a joint venture that plans to bring together American and Indian experts to discuss technologies associated with SBSP at a bilateral meeting planned for next May in Huntsville, Alabama, in conjunction with the International Space Development Conference, the annual conference of the NSS.

What gives this effort added prominence is one of the Indian supporters of the effort: Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the former president of India. Kalam worked on missile and space programs in India before becoming president in 2002, earning the nickname “Missile Man of India”. He promoted India’s space efforts during his five-year tenure as president and is now lending his name and interest to this new effort.

I have been proposing that large missions, like bringing space solar power to the Earth, would need the combined efforts of nations,” Kalam said, speaking by phone from India. His interest in SBSP, he said, came from a need to meet India’s growing energy requirements while moving away from fossil fuels. “We need to graduate from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.”

While the idea of cooperation between the two countries on space solar power has been brought up in the past (see “Should India and the US cooperate on space solar power?”, The Space Review, June 8, 2009), the concept was discussed in detail more recently in an August 2010 white paper by Peter Garretson, an Air Force lieutenant colonel who had a fellowship at India’s Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses. In the paper, he outlined the concept of solar power from space and how it might serve to advance the strategic partnership between the United States and India.

In the paper, Garretson calls for a three-stage joint effort for development of an SBSP system, after an initial (“stage 0”) creation of a bilateral framework: a technology development study, development of a demonstration system, and then full-fledged production. While the final stage would cost tens of billions of dollars, Garretson wrote that the technology study stage could be done for only $10–30 million over about five years.

Why should the two countries cooperate on SBSP, though? At Thursday’s press conference, NSS CEO Mark Hopkins noted that the two countries have “so much in common”, ranging from a shared colonial history to strong public interest in space. Both also have growing energy requirements, especially in India as that populous nation modernizes, and SBSP could meet those needs and more. “India and the United States can become major net exporters of energy,” he said.

07 November 2010

Carnegie Institute Report by Ashley Tellis Mentions Space Solar Power

From: https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.carnegieendowment.org/files/obama_in_india.pdf&pli=1

In anticipation of the president’s visit, the United States and India are also currently
engaged in a preliminary discussion about collaborating to secure the commons. By its
very nature, this conversation will be an extended one because it involves not merely
operational cooperation in four substantially different realms—air, space, maritime,
and cyber—but a new framework aimed at creating acceptable “rules of the road” for
all actors globally.

Space has long been an arena of successful U.S.-Indian cooperation. Since its origin,
the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has had close links with its American
counterpart, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and this
partnership laid the foundations for ISRO’s current achievements in space launchers,
space systems, and space science.
Unfortunately, this collaboration frayed during the 1980s when ISRO, against its own
choice, supported the development of solid fuel rockets for the Indian missile pro-
gram. These problems thankfully can now be put in the past: the expertise developed
during the last decade within India’s Defense Research and Development Organiza-
tion (DRDO) in solid fuel rocketry implies that ISRO is free to return to its traditional
preoccupation—civilian space. In addition, the removal of both ISRO and DRDO
from the Entity List—something that Obama should announce during his visit—en-
ables the United States to cooperate more vigorously with both organizations, but
especially with ISRO, given the successful history of past collaboration.

There are numerous projects that the United States and India can immediately apply
themselves to in this regard: collaborating on space-based and terrestrial weather
forecasting, especially with regard to monsoon prediction and tracking, a subject of
enormous importance for India; partnering to build GAGAN, India’s satellite-based
augmentation system intended to increase the accuracy of its existing global position-
ing system (GPS) receivers; aiding India’s ambitious space exploration efforts and, in
particular, its manned lunar landing program where the United States has unparalleled
experience; joining the Indo-French Megha-Tropiques mission (MTM) intended to
study the water cycle in the tropical atmosphere to assess climate change; and sharing
additional data from various space-based remote sensing satellites such as LANDSAT,

Above all, however, bilateral space cooperation will receive a serious boost if the two
countries finally conclude the Commercial Space Launch Agreement (CSLA) that was
agreed to in 2004 but has eluded completion thus far largely due to U.S. bureaucratic
mishaps. As one looks to the future, it is obvious that, as India becomes a signifi-
cant space-faring power, the opportunities for collaboration will only increase. One
remarkable idea toward this end has recently been articulated by Lieutenant Colonel
Peter Garretson, United States Air Force, and involves joint collaboration to develop
a “highly scalable, revolutionary, renewable energy technology”21 that exploits space-
based solar power. This concept deserves serious scrutiny in both countries because it
subsists at the frontiers of space science and has the potential for enormous payoffs
in both energy security and mitigating climate change.

Will Obama second Kalam-NSS Initiative while in India?

From: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/6886049.cms?prtpage=1

Printed from

India, America join hands to harness solar power
Srinivas Laxman, TNN, Nov 8, 2010, 02.22am IST
MUMBAI: India and USA teamed up on a space-based energy initiative aimed at turning both countries into net energy exporters, 48 hours before US President Barack Obama landed in India.

The project is led by former president of India A P J Abdul Kalam, who was once a staunch critic of the US, and National Space Society (NSS), a non-profit US-based space organization with chapters all over the world including India. The initiative was announced on Thursday at Washington's National Press Club where Kalam and Isro Satellite Centre director T K Alex were present. Known as the Kalam-National Space Society initiative, the mission envisages harvesting solar power in space for use on earth.

Alex is the project's principal investigator from India. Kalam told the US media that a team from Isro has been formed to carry out a feasibility study for this project. He said Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan asked him to take the idea forward after a discussing the project. Referring to the Manmohan Singh-Obama summit in New Delhi on Sunday, Kalam said both were concerned leaders ''interested in energy-related issues and energy independence''. Kalam said it was a 15-year-project. The main challenge is to evolve methods to transmit solar power from space to earth and its distribution. To make it economical, the cost of launching a spacecraft, currently $20,000 a kg, has to be slashed to $2,000 a kg.

Read more: India, America join hands to harness solar power - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/6886049.cms?prtpage=1#ixzz14emtVo63

From: http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=1163

NSS-Kalam Energy Initiative To Harvest Solar Power From Space

by Energy Matters
NSS-Kalam Energy Initiative
America and India, two nations trying to wean themselves off an unhealthy reliance on fossil fuels, have agreed to work towards a joint space program that would establish solar energy harvesting satellites in orbit around the Earth.
As US President Barack Obama visits India, his former counterpart Dr A.P.J. Kalam, eleventh president of India last week addressed the National Press Club along with the National Space Society (NSS) on the subject of space solar power.
Dr Kalam is in partnership with Dr. T.K. Alex, Director of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Satellite Centre and leader of the Chandrayan-1 project that discovered water on the moon. The project is called the Kalam-NSS Initiative.
Although the logistics involved in the production and transfer of space solar power are literally out of this world, Dr Kalam says humanity will have no choice because Earth-bound renewable energy sources will not be able to cope with demand.
"By 2050, even if we use every available energy resource we have: clean and dirty, conventional and alternative, solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear, coal, oil, and gas, the world will fall short of the energy we need."
Kalam believes that utilising off-world solar power has the potential to reverse America’s half a trillion dollar a year balance of payments deficit and to generate a new generation of American jobs. It is, he argues, simply expanding on existing technology that has been in use for decades by both India and America to power satellites sent into space. 
Telstar, America’s first commercial satellite, was essentially a "beachball encrusted with square medallions. Those medallions were photovoltaic panels.

From: http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/jsp_includes/articlePrint.jsp?storyID=news/asd/2010/11/05/04.xml&headLine=Indian,%20U.S.%20Experts%20Team%20On%20Space%20Solar%20Power

Indian, U.S. Experts Team On Space Solar Power
By Frank Morring, Jr.

Former Indian President A.P.J. Kalam has lent his name to a new cooperative effort by experts in the U.S. and India to advance space solar power (SSP) as a way to improve life on Earth.

Kalam, 79, is a space pioneer who served as the 11th president of India. He and his former associates at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) have teamed with the Washington-based National Space Society (NSS) for an initiative aimed at accomplishing the work necessary to field a system of large satellites that would collect solar energy and beam it safely to Earth’s surface.

“A large mission like space solar power will need the combined efforts of many nations,” Kalam said Nov. 4 in a conference call from India. “I am certain that harvesting solar power in space can upgrade the living standard of the human race.”

U.S. Allies

Kalam was joined on the line by John Mankins, a former exploration chief technologist at NASA who is president of the Space Power Association, and T.K. Alex, director of the ISRO’s Satellite Center in Bengaluru. Alex, who led development of the Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter, will join Mankins as co-principal investigators on the Kalam-National Space Society Energy Initiative.

The group plans a bilateral meeting in Huntsville, Ala., next May to establish a course of action and organizational structure.

While NSS CEO Mark Hopkins says that meeting will be organized around Indian and U.S. participants, plans call for broadening the effort to include other nations — notably Japan, which has done advanced work in space solar power.

Kalam says the topic may be included during President Barack Obama’s upcoming summit with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but a more likely route to the top levels of spacefaring nations will come in presentations at future G-8 and G-20 economic summits.

Ideally, different nations will contribute SSP components based on their particular skills, he says.

For India and the U.S., cooperation in technology development also can work, he adds.

Indian infrastructure

Alex says India already has a significant terrestrial solar power industry based in the country’s north. The nation also is working in multi-junction solar arrays which, while not as advanced as similar technology in the U.S., could lead to the solar-power conversion efficiency needed to make SSP practical. Similarly, Kalam cited India’s work in reusable launch vehicle technology as a way to hold down the cost of getting SSP payloads to orbit, and said that work could go faster if the U.S. and India collaborate.

Mankins cited a “10-10-10” rule for a first prototype in geostationary orbit that could be a goal for the new bilateral initiative.

Such a system would deliver 10 megawatts of power, cost less than $10 billion to build and launch, and be ready in less than 10 years. The system would consist of a large satellite to collect the Sun’s energy and convert it into microwaves, which would be beamed to an antenna on Earth that would collect the microwaves for conversion to electricity and transmission through the existing power grid.

The antenna would be as open as chicken wire, Hopkins says, which would permit farmers to grow crops under it. And the beam would be so diffuse that “you can walk through the beam, even if you’re naked, and it’s not going to hurt you.”

A.P.J. Kalam photo: India government

From: http://www.spacepolitics.com/2010/11/07/us-and-india-in-space-and-space-solar-power/
US and India in space (and space solar power?)
November 7, 2010 at 9:52 am · Filed under Other

President Obama is currently in India, where he is expected to formally announce on Monday the removal of the Indian space agency ISRO from a US list that restricts exports of some sensitive technologies. The Entity List, as it is formally known, specifies additional requirements for items beyond what’s already required under export control regulations. Currently ISRO and four organizations within it are on the list, requiring a “case-by-case review” for any item on the Commerce Control List for export to those organizations. That restriction dates back to sanctions placed on India and Pakistan for their nuclear tests in the late 1990s.

That move isn’t unexpected: it had been anticipated for weeks in both the US and India. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Thursday, former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage, writing with another former State Department official, R. Nicholas Burns, called on both the White House and Congress to “liberalize U.S. export controls that have an impact on India, including by removing the Indian Space Research Organization (the Indian equivalent to NASA) from the U.S. ‘Entity List.’” However, that appears to be the limit of space-related progress in the president’s visit: Indian media reported last week that it’s unlikely a commercial satellite launch agreement will be completed in time. Such an agreement would make it easier for US-built commercial satellites, or satellites with US-built components, to be launched on Indian vehicles.

A few people, though, are seeking much grander visions of US-Indian cooperation in space. At a press conference in Washington on Thursday, American and Indian officials announced the creation of Kalam-NSS Energy Initiative to promote the development of space-based solar power (SBSP) in the two nations. The near-term goal of the initiative is to arrange a bilateral meeting of Indian and American experts on the topic in May in Huntsville, Alabama, in conjunction with the International Space Development Conference (ISDC), the annual conference of the National Space Society (NSS).

The effort might be dismissed as a minor effort of a few people to promote what’s widely considered a fringe topic, but it does have the backing of a prominent individual on the Indian side: former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who participated in Thursday’s press conference by phone from India. Kalam spoke of the need to increase energy production to meet the needs of a modernizing India, without going into details about how the two countries might cooperation in SBSP beyond holding a joint meeting. Asked if the topic might come up in the meeting between President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Singh in New Delhi, Kalam suggested that it should instead be presented at a future meeting of G8 or G20 nations.

Also unclear is what India would bring to the table in terms of its role in developing a SBSP system. Asked what unique capabilities India could offer, Kalam discussed the development of what he called a “hyperplane”, a reusable spaceplane concept, something he said India could cooperate with the US and other nations on. (Given the difficulties any nation has had in developing RLVs, and the challenges India has faced in even building a cryogenic upper stage for its GSLV expendable rocket, jumping ahead to a “hyperplane” may seem a bit of a stretch.) T.K. Alex, director of the ISRO Satellite Centre and the Indian lead of the Kalam-NSS Energy Initiative, said later at the press conference that India could also contribute in the development of high-efficiency and lightweight solar cells. NSS CEO Mark Hopkins suggested a different role for India, saying that “a combination of American technology and the ability of India to do a lot of low-cost manufacturing” could be essential to any future success of SBSP.

From: http://news.rediff.com/report/2010/nov/02/kalam-nss-initiative-to-tap-solar-power-in-space.htm
'Kalam-NSS' initiative to tap solar power in space
November 02, 2010 08:02 IST
Tags: National Space Society, Indian Space Research Organisation, Mark Hopkins, Kalam, NASA
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Former Indian President A P J Abdul Kalam [ Images ] and US' prestigious National Space Society are all set to announce their ambitious joint initiative to tap solar power in space, when President Barack Obama [ Images ] visits the country this weekend.

"The 'Kalam-NSS' Energy Initiative is a transformative idea that can up shift the US and Indian economies by meeting the urgent global need for a scalable, carbon-neutral, green, 24-hr renewable power source," CEO of National Space Society (NSS) Mark Hopkins said.

It is a game-changing technology that addresses energy security, sustainable development, climate change, and multinational cooperation, Hopkins said.

Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [ Images ] are expected to discuss joint research and development on energy issues during the former's maiden visit to the country.

"I am convinced that harvesting solar power in space can bring India [ Images ] and United States of America together in whole new ways.

"And I am certain that harvesting solar power in space can upgrade the living standard of the human race," Kalam said.

Dr T K Alex, Director of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and John Mankins, a 25-year NASA [ Images ] veteran, are believed to provide the details via electronic feed.

The popular former Indian president would also address a press conference at NSS via phone on November 4.

The next step in the Kalam-NSS Energy Initiative will be a NSS joint Indo-American conference on space solar power at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on May 18-22 next year.

Space solar power has the potential to reverse America's half-a-trillion dollar balance of payments a year deficit and to generate a new generation of American jobs, a media release said, adding that it is a source whose basic technology is already here.

US has been harvesting solar power in space and transmitting it to earth since 1962, when 'Telstar', the first commercial satellite, went up in orbit.

Similarly India has been looking to tap solar energy in space since 1975, when its first satellite, 'Aryabhatta A', was introduced,

World electricity demand by the year 2035 is projected to increase by 87 per cent.

"By 2050, even if we use every available energy resource we have: clean and dirty, conventional and alternative, solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear, coal, oil, and gas, the world will fall short of the energy we need," Kalam said.

There is an answer… an energy source that produces no carbon emissions, an energy source that can reach to most distant villages of the world, and an energy source that can turn both countries into net energy and technology exporters, the former president added.

From: http://www.thinkindia.net.in/2010/11/india-and-the-us-to-harvest-solar-power-in-space-.html

India and the U.S. to "Harvest Solar Power in Space"
India and the U.S. have agreed to team up on a space-based energy initiative, reports The Times of India.

This comes as U.S. President Barack Obama is on an official trip to India, aimed at opening up the Indian market for U.S. business.

The Times of India says the project looks to turn both countries into net energy exporters. Named the Kalam-National Space Society initiative, it proposes to harvest solar power in space, for use on earth. Read More

Source: Third Age

From: http://www.next100.com/2010/10/partners-in-space.php

OCT 26 2010

Posted by: Jonathan Marshall
When President Obama visits India in a couple of weeks to help cement the two countries’ strategic and economic relationship, he should make room on the agenda for a visionary plan to create a joint space-based solar energy program.

That’s the provocative recommendation of a recent report drafted by a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, and published by the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, a think tank based in New Delhi and funded by India’s defense ministry.

As readers of NEXT100 know, space-based solar energy is an unproven but nearly unlimited source of clean, renewable energy. Photovoltaic panels in orbit around the Earth would capture intense solar energy around the clock—with no down time for clouds or night—and then beam it down to an earth receiving station in the form of microwaves. The energy would then be converted into electrical current suitable for the power grid.

India has a strong interest in space solar power, thanks to its active space program and limited available land for terrestrial solar. The country’s former president, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, told a group of space experts in Boston three years ago that India is developing an inexpensive reusable launch vehicle that could give "mankind the benefit of space solar-power stations in geostationary and other orbits.”

The new think-tank report maintains that a joint program aimed at establishing a commercially viable space solar industry by 2025 could be “the next major step in the Indo-US strategic partnership.” It would help “solve the linked problems of energy security, development and climate change” while giving India a constructive and peaceful direction for its rising space program.

If successful, the partnership would “position the US and Indian technical and industrial bases to enjoy a competitive edge in what is expected to be a significant and profitable market,” the report adds.

It will also become one of the grandest and most ambitious humanitarian and environmentalist causes that will be sure to excite a generation as did the Apollo program that put a man on the moon.”

The two countries are longstanding partners when it comes to space science. The United States helped India launch its first generation of satellites in the 1970s, and India returned the favor by carrying NASA’s Moon Minerology Mapper aboard a moon-orbiting satellite last year.

A key stumbling block—aside from the Obama administration’s apparent disinterest in space solar—is India’s continuing refusal to sign the Missile Technology Control Regime, which seeks to curb the proliferation of missile technology. Unless it signs, the United States can’t share rocket technology with India.

See the press conference here: