US-India Space Solar Power

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Booban

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http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/asd/2010/11/05/04.xml&headline=Indian, U.S. Experts Team On Space Solar Power&channel=space
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.”
Because of the military implications, this technology has a potential customer willing to front its development. This is the way to go for space development.
 
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Crossover_Maniac

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10 megawatts for $10 billion dollars. That's way too expensive. The bulk of that 10 billion have better be development cost otherwise it's impractical. For $10 billion, we could purchase quite a few thorium reactors.
 
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stevekk

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I am not a believer in building these systems to send a beam of energy from space to earth. You need to convince me that this is not going to burn an even larger hole through the ozone layer. What about global warming due to these microwaves hitting our atmosphere ?

Leave this technology to the Indians. We can guarantee that their home-grown rockets won't be able to lift the device to a proper orbit anyway.
 
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Valcan

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stevekk":3mjfb68m said:
Leave this technology to the Indians. We can guarantee that their home-grown rockets won't be able to lift the device to a proper orbit anyway.
Why is that exactly? :?:

I'm quite sure they could do it. Why we wouldn't invest in that instead of a bunch of thorium reactors as was said or nuke reactors is a better question.
 
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Booban

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Well, I don't know anything about burning ozone with microwaves, that would a serious drawback.

But one obvious advantage with space solar power is that you can beam to anywhere on the planet.

10 megawatts supplies approx. 30,000 homes. I think that is substantial for military use or places where its impractical to, for example, put power lines (which storms bring down), ship coal to or build thorium reactors. In one sweep, the energy supply logistics would suddenly disappear (once vehicles are electrically powered).

Now, until its done, we can't know whether it is feasible economically or technologically, but compared to other billions we spend on space activities getting no where, I would rather try something which has practical benefits and could be reached within a foreseeable period of time.

Even if it is shown not to be feasible and costs too much, once it is done, it is still paying back 10 megawatts compared to other space activities which pay back ziltch for the moment. If you're going to have a space station up there doing nothing, you might as well have it beam energy back which is better than nothing.

Should it be successful the pay off for further space development is huge, this gives a profitable reason to continue operating and developing space. Huge solar power stations mean maintenance which means space workers, and everything else comes after that, including colonization.
 
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Crossover_Maniac

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stevekk":3usr5mvj said:
I am not a believer in building these systems to send a beam of energy from space to earth. You need to convince me that this is not going to burn an even larger hole through the ozone layer. What about global warming due to these microwaves hitting our atmosphere ?

Leave this technology to the Indians. We can guarantee that their home-grown rockets won't be able to lift the device to a proper orbit anyway.
Burden of proof is on the person making the accusation. *You* have to prove microwaves will adversely affect the ozone layer. This attitude is Ludditism to assume, by default, technology will cause DDDDOOOOOMMMMM!!!11111oneoneone.
 
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stevekk

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Besides the fact that 10 MW is hardly any energy at all. You could install 10 or so windmills at a small fraction of the cost, and have a much more cheaper and many even more reliable energy supply.
 
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vulture4

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stevekk":1thxiolv said:
Besides the fact that 10 MW is hardly any energy at all. You could install 10 or so windmills at a small fraction of the cost, and have a much more cheaper and many even more reliable energy supply.
Good point. Typical nuclear plants produce about 1 gigawatt per reactor unit. The cost of a new nuclear plant is $6B to $10B, about the same as quoted above, while power generated is 100 times greater. Space solar power has been studied very extensively and absent extreme reductions in launch cost it is simply not economical.

The cost of spaceflight remains exorbitant. It's time we stopped looking for ways to justify it and started looking for ways to reduce it.
 
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StarRider1701

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A few years ago I remember reading an article about a proposed Japanese solar satelite. I don't remember what it was going to cost, but if I recall correctly, the article talked about 1.2 or 1.3 Gigs and that the sat would pay for itself within a 2 or 3 years. I never did hear that they launched it though, nor did I hear why not. According to the article, they had it all planned out. I've always said that power sats were a great idea.

As to the poster who said that the power could be beamed anywhere on the planet - NOT! Ideally, these sats would be placed in geosyncronous orbit above one spot of ground where the receivers are. While it might be possible to re-aim them to another nearby receiver, doing so could reduce effeciency.
 
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oldAtlas_Eguy

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StarRider1701":19hk5guv said:
A few years ago I remember reading an article about a proposed Japanese solar satelite. I don't remember what it was going to cost, but if I recall correctly, the article talked about 1.2 or 1.3 Gigs and that the sat would pay for itself within a 2 or 3 years. I never did hear that they launched it though, nor did I hear why not. According to the article, they had it all planned out. I've always said that power sats were a great idea.
Here is an article about the JAXA SBSP project. It is a year old so I am wondering if there is any new status info about the project. It’s twice the project size of the US India one.
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aJ529lsdk9HI

StarRider1701":19hk5guv said:
As to the poster who said that the power could be beamed anywhere on the planet - NOT! Ideally, these sats would be placed in geosyncronous orbit above one spot of ground where the receivers are. While it might be possible to re-aim them to another nearby receiver, doing so could reduce effeciency.
A 45 degree off angle is within reason and does not incur much of an additional loss. A +-45 degree latitude and longitude value from the GEO satellite position means that one SBSP can beam power to 1/16th of the entire world’s surface. To support higher latitudes up to 85 degrees a higher loss rate due to atmosphere would incur as well as additional loss in bad weather conditions where at lower latitudes bad weather would not be a large contributor to loss variation. Four SBSP’s could cover 80% of the entire world, leaving only the Polar Regions uncovered.
 
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MeteorWayne

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StarRider1701":2vuihmaw said:
A few years ago I remember reading an article about a proposed Japanese solar satelite. I don't remember what it was going to cost, but if I recall correctly, the article talked about 1.2 or 1.3 Gigs and that the sat would pay for itself within a 2 or 3 years. I never did hear that they launched it though, nor did I hear why not. According to the article, they had it all planned out. I've always said that power sats were a great idea.

As to the poster who said that the power could be beamed anywhere on the planet - NOT! Ideally, these sats would be placed in geosyncronous orbit above one spot of ground where the receivers are. While it might be possible to re-aim them to another nearby receiver, doing so could reduce effeciency.

There's a thread somewhere here in SB&T about that.
 
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WannabeRocketScientist

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1.21 gigawatts? Great Scott!

Just kidding.

10 megawatts is rather pitiful, but you must look at the long-term benefit. Orbital solar panel is the power source of the future. Power beaming has been theorized and tested since Tesla. No atmosphere for the light to have to travel through, and space is a great place to utilize superconductors. Look at the wind farms built after the 70s oil embargo. They are small, noisy, and inefficient. But today, we have big wind farms that generate sizable energy. Imagine for a moment a network of solar panels branching off of the counterweight of a space elevator in the distant future, capable of powering a major city, all thanks to testing of superconductor materials and solar power in space. I am sounding idealistic, but I don't think this is the most outlandish solution to our energy needs that we have ever been presented with. Expensive yes, but the benefits are huge.

I maintain, however, that Thorium-based power plants are the future. After reading a Wired article on them a while back I am convinced that we need to build these everywhere. All the clean benefits of nuclear without the waste and risk of meltdown.
 
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Skyskimmer

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I donno it's such a weird concept to be talking about. I mean in terms of 1 billion per megawatt.


One question I'd like to get answered could this be used for electric planes with no burden of batteries it seems it could greatly alter global flight, add to that, shipping, emergency response, concerts, remote camping, and or for rapid expansion of industrial areas.


Anyhow I still can't seem to understand the numbers. I heard that using essentially solar film(not panel) arranged like sails, could get the cost down by a factor of 100 assumming companies like spacex can get their costs down to $1000/per kg with rapid increase in volume being launched.
 
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stevekk

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WannabeRocketScientist":353ni11y said:
1.21 gigawatts? Great Scott!

Just kidding.

10 megawatts is rather pitiful, but you must look at the long-term benefit. Orbital solar panel is the power source of the future. Power beaming has been theorized and tested since Tesla. No atmosphere for the light to have to travel through, and space is a great place to utilize superconductors. Look at the wind farms built after the 70s oil embargo. They are small, noisy, and inefficient. But today, we have big wind farms that generate sizable energy. Imagine for a moment a network of solar panels branching off of the counterweight of a space elevator in the distant future, capable of powering a major city, all thanks to testing of superconductor materials and solar power in space. I am sounding idealistic, but I don't think this is the most outlandish solution to our energy needs that we have ever been presented with. Expensive yes, but the benefits are huge.

I maintain, however, that Thorium-based power plants are the future. After reading a Wired article on them a while back I am convinced that we need to build these everywhere. All the clean benefits of nuclear without the waste and risk of meltdown.
I'm all for Nuclear, once we figure out how to recycle the fuel. Obviously, we are never going to get a permanent storage facility, even though the government collected billions of dollars from the industry to bury the waste in Nevada, only to get that derailed by politics. We have to start building new reactors, just to maintain the current level of power generation currently out there. If we tried to replace that by Wind Mills or Solar, if would require covering every square inch of the country with Wind mills / solar panels, and it still wouldn't be enough.

We need to spend money on developing reliable energy sources in the US. We don't need to share our research with India if we want to maintain any type of competitive edge. India has 4 times the population of the USA. They can spend their own tax dollars on the research.
 
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JETSETTER

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WHO TOLD INDIA CAN'T PUT INTO ORBIT? WE HAVE ONE OF THE BEST LAUNCHING SYSTEM IN THE WORLD.
 
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vulture4

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I'm sure India could launch the payloads. The question is whether it makes economic sense. India has the most ambitious thorium-breeder-cycle reactor plans in the world, and some of the largest deposits of thorium to boot. That's a plan that is solidly based in engineering and economic analysis. Just try to figure out how fast you would have to launch huge satellites to meet any measurable fraction of India's power demands. It would be unaffordable.

We need to stop looking for the "killer app" that will justify the nearly infinite cost of human spaceflight. It doesn't exist. Instead, we should be looking for the evolutionary technology that can vastly reduce the cost of going into space so we can go there for mundane purposes.
 
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stevekk

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JETSETTER":1gfpbh5s said:
WHO TOLD INDIA CAN'T PUT INTO ORBIT? WE HAVE ONE OF THE BEST LAUNCHING SYSTEM IN THE WORLD.
While India was able to sucessfully copy some of the Russian designs, they do not have the best launching system in the world.

Even SpaceX has a better overall record of success.
 
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Skyskimmer

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stevekk":3g61ttua said:
JETSETTER":3g61ttua said:
WHO TOLD INDIA CAN'T PUT INTO ORBIT? WE HAVE ONE OF THE BEST LAUNCHING SYSTEM IN THE WORLD.
While India was able to sucessfully copy some of the Russian designs, they do not have the best launching system in the world.

Even SpaceX has a better overall record of success.
Meh they got pricing which is all that matters, Honestly would you say a place has great food if it cost 15 times more for basically the same thing. They got loads of potential, there the only country in the world to match the USA on portion of gdp spent on space, so they will be a major player as there economy continues to expand. Don't even think for a second that there ruled out, no more than you would rule out japanese automakers in the 1950's.
 
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oldAtlas_Eguy

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Who said India would sell power just to itself. SBSP that can compete with a coal power plant would be an export item just as if the beamed power was barrels of oil. India would then become the new Opec to the rest of the world. The problem with nuclear plants even Thorium plants is the aspect of radiation and the fact that the populace is afraid of it. This political issue overshadows nuclear plants of any type more than anything to do with the cost of the power they produce.
 
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Skyskimmer

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oldAtlas_Eguy":2igtalc9 said:
Who said India would sell power just to itself. SBSP that can compete with a coal power plant would be an export item just as if the beamed power was barrels of oil. India would then become the new Opec to the rest of the world. The problem with nuclear plants even Thorium plants is the aspect of radiation and the fact that the populace is afraid of it. This political issue overshadows nuclear plants of any type more than anything to do with the cost of the power they produce.
Lol that's a western world delusional bias, no one cares in the rest of the world. Which is thing alot of people don't realize about the new powers. They have little concern from our supposed viewpoint given them an added edge going beyond just gdp.
 
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stevekk

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There are 4 times as many people in India as there are in the US. There is no need for the US to share our technology with them. They have enough engineers and have already imported enough of our intellectual property. Why do we need to set them up to compete against us ?

Think about it. NASA is spending millions of dollars to develop commerical space business here in the USA. Obama wants to undercut that effort by helping their competition. SpaceX, Orbital, ULA, et al already have enough competition from the Chinese and Russians. If you are going to support the Indians, then stop supporting commerical space companies.
 
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Skyskimmer

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stevekk":34w3eqmd said:
There are 4 times as many people in India as there are in the US. There is no need for the US to share our technology with them. They have enough engineers and have already imported enough of our intellectual property. Why do we need to set them up to compete against us ?

Think about it. NASA is spending millions of dollars to develop commerical space business here in the USA. Obama wants to undercut that effort by helping their competition. SpaceX, Orbital, ULA, et al already have enough competition from the Chinese and Russians. If you are going to support the Indians, then stop supporting commerical space companies.
HUH :eek:

So you want to ignore india's main competitive advantage which is efficiency? IF hey could do what we can do for 1/10th the budget we will be sunk in the future.
 
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oldAtlas_Eguy

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I wonder if India spawns a company like Space X that develops and manufactures all its own parts so that it has 100% quality control over its parts so that it can achieve high sustainable success rate and still be competitive to the India government LV program, I imagine that they would capture a great deal of the world commercial satellite LV market. With manpower cost ratio of even ¼ that of the US that would make the cost per kg to LEO to be about $2000! Now that would be significant competition! The only way to beat it would be to have boosters that take 3 to 10 times their payload capability. You would survive as a US company by staying ahead, forever making bigger cheaper rockets. If they started the company today they would be behind by 8 years and if US companies don’t keep pushing for new rockets and bigger payloads the India company would catch up and put them out of business. At some point India’s manpower costs will start to approach the same as the US lowering the pay scale gap as India’s space industry increases.
 
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Skyskimmer

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oldAtlas_Eguy":1dc2pi0h said:
I wonder if India spawns a company like Space X that develops and manufactures all its own parts so that it has 100% quality control over its parts so that it can achieve high sustainable success rate and still be competitive to the India government LV program, I imagine that they would capture a great deal of the world commercial satellite LV market. With manpower cost ratio of even ¼ that of the US that would make the cost per kg to LEO to be about $2000! Now that would be significant competition! The only way to beat it would be to have boosters that take 3 to 10 times their payload capability. You would survive as a US company by staying ahead, forever making bigger cheaper rockets. If they started the company today they would be behind by 8 years and if US companies don’t keep pushing for new rockets and bigger payloads the India company would catch up and put them out of business. At some point India’s manpower costs will start to approach the same as the US lowering the pay scale gap as India’s space industry increases.
You read my mind, not to mention bangalore is a better place to launch from than the cape, no burden of complicated politics(india is friends with all), and populace that haven't been burned by appollo program and you got a sleeping giant in terms of aerospace. There free market competitive, and are willing to take risks. their funding relative to gdp is 3 times that of China's and four time the european average. They are just corrupt enough to get some gov support for private, without the need to make things complicated,(no safety stuff.)
 
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