Online Journal of Space Communication


Solar Power Satellites (SPS) using Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) to beam renewable energy to consumers on earth face three grand challenges: moving parts, heat dissipation, and radio interference. Solutions to each of these “show stoppers” are presented here. Further, a progressively more-complex pathway is described which starts where we are now and leads step-wise to implementation of large-scale Space Solar Power (SSP).

The first two grand challenges are addressed by a novel SPS design based on a thin-walled cylinder configuration of solar panels. The remaining challenge is tackled through a newly-discovered antenna configuration which allows dramatic reduction in radio/telecom interference from so-called “sidelobes.” The cost of this SPS (called the “tin can” for its resemblance to a soup tin with the “lid” antenna canted up at an angle) is made affordable through the use of raw materials already present in space. The techniques known as In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU, or “living off the land”) provide for the refinement of minerals (powdered rock or “regolith”) from the moon or from asteroids into the pure metals and semiconductors needed to build the tin can SPS. All these factors are brought together as the ultimate goal of a progression of value-added solutions leading to commercial feasibility of SSP.

Click here to see this team video: Pathway to Power

Faculty Advisor: Peter Schubert, Director, Richard G. Lugar Center for Renewable Energy; Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, Indiana



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