Space Habitats

Space based solar power

An idea which has been promoted is solar power from space. The rationale is as follows: solar panels on Earth are only efficient for 8 hours a day at most, in space it is 24/7 and the Sun’s power is not dimmed by the Earth’s atmosphere. Micrometeorites abrade the panels, but experience with existing satellites indicate that they can last 20 years befor needing to be replaced. The major problem, however, is transmitting that power back to Earth. The only feasible way is microwaves, with a difficult balance to be drawn between powerful enough to transmit the power effectively, and weak enough not to have adverse effects on the atmosphere (or interfere with telecommunications). If these issues can be solved ( a big if) then space based solar power could be a useful adjunct and money spinner to the development programme for constructing the first space habitats, as described in a previous post. After all, solar panels would need to be constructed for any space habitat- and the cost of bringing panels up from Earth would be prohibitive.

A solar powered sattelite


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