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19 September 2008

Solar Power Satellite Proof of Concept


Discovery Communications, parent company to the Discovery Channel, sponsored the first demonstration of wireless power transmission.

Wireless power transmission is the cornerstone of Space Based Power Satellites, an objective used by proponents of heavy industry in space.  The thought is that by building giant solar power farms in orbit and then beaming the resulting power down to antenna farms on Earth, we'd have the ultimate in "green" power.  You'd minimize the emissions from coal, natural gas and oil plants here on earth and trade that for costs of launching enough material and people into orbit to manufacture the satellites.

The project leader is former NASA executive John C. Mankins and his contact email is jmankins@managedenergytech.com.

The experiment used solid state phased array transmitter on Maui.  Two different sets of receivers were set up.  One was airborne and the other on the big island of Hawai'i.  The amount transmitted to the receivers was 20 watts, a miniscule amount.  My biggest question was what was the transmission efficiency and according to Mankins, extremely low, though this was by budgetary design.  Mankins claims that he should be able to achieve 64% efficiency.  With a larger budget, we could get an experiment that would test the actual power transmission capabilities of the system.  There are also rumors of mounting a similar setup on the ISS.

Live Science.com

Wired Science.com

For more information, head over the NSS website devoted to Space Based Power : http://www.nss.org/settlement/ssp/

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