Online Journal of Space Communication


The Space Power Grid (SPG) architecture
described in papers from our group since 2006, is an
evolutionary approach to realizing the global dream of
Space Solar Power (SSP). SPG first concentrates on helping
terrestrial power plants become viable, aligning with public
policy priorities. It enables a real -time power exchange
through Space to help locate new plants at ideal but remote
sites, smooth supply fluctuations, reach high-valued
markets, and achieve baseload status. With retail cost kept
to moderate levels, a constellation grows in 17 years to 100
power relay satellites at 2000 km sun-synchronous and
equatorial orbits and 250 terrestrial plants, exchanging
beamed power at 220GHz. In another 23 years, power
collection satellites replacing the initial constellation will
convert sunlight focused from ultralight collectors in high
orbits and add it to the beamed power infrastructure,
growing SSP to nearly 4 TWe with wholesale and retail
delivery. The SPG-based SSP system can break even at a
healthy return on investment, modest development funding,
and realistic launch costs. The immense launch cost risk in
GEO-based SSP architectures is exchanged for the moderate
risk in developing efficient millimeter wave technology and
dynamic beam pointing in the next decade. A US-India
space-based power exchange demonstration would
constitute a rational first step towards a global SPG. We
discuss two options to achieve near -24-hour power
exchange: 1) 4 to 6 satel lites at 5500km near-equatorial
orbits, with ground stations in the USA, India, Australia and
Egypt. 2) 6 satellites in 5500 km orbits, with ground stations
only in the US and India.



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