Space SolarPower at the 51st IAC
The Space Power Symposium for theRio Congress presented a generally upbeat picture of the outlook as webegin the new century. The level of activity is impressive. Twenty-threepapers were presented, these papers reflecting 57 authors, 28 companies,universities or agencies and 8 countries.
Broadly, considering each of thethree sessions, the symposium projected the following:
From R.1 Power from Space - Prospects for the 21st CenturyA new industrial era in space,driven by profound materials advances combined with strong programmaticapproaches and sound systems architectures will contribute significantlyto human wealth and well-being. Commercial, regulatory and safety aspects,while challenging, are tractable and the initial recipients of space-basedsolar power will be the developing countries. One dissenting view indicatedthat it will be difficult to structure enterprises that will be profitablewith currently-expected rates of return. Simulations indicate that thedemand for electricity will be highly variable in pilot operations.From R.2 Advanced Space Power Systems and TechnologiesNovel technologies are being assessedand/or developed and prospects are good that these will contribute significantlyto prospective systems and architectures. In one case (batteries), an advancedLithium ion system has shown promising performance and ease of qualification.Fundamental work is underway on improving the conditioning of the powerbeam to effect better capture efficiency at the rectenna.From R.3 Emerging Applications of Space PowerIn-space applications of powerbeaming must not be neglected. Indeed there may be a rich array of marketsincluding microgravity services, large communications satellites, interplanetarymissions and lunar roving vehicles. Space to ground power beaming may possiblyhave an application in tornado modification prior to its being commerciallyviable for delivery of electricity. Finally, advancing SSP capabilitiesmay be enabled by innovative deployment concepts developed for solar sailingand by intelligent, cooperative robots engaged in solar cell manufactureon the moon and assembly of systems in space.In brief, the space power communityis active within a large number of organizations across several countries