NEWS

Space-based Solar Power Could Aid Security

By Laura Spadanuta, Assistant Editor

The Pentagon's National Security Space Office (NSSO) released a report this month analyzing the use of space-based solar power (SBSP) to enhance national, energy, environmental, and other types of security.

SBSP consists of placing large solar arrays into the Earth's orbit and collecting gigawatts of electrical energy. That energy will be electromagnetically beamed back to Earth and used as baseload power for electrical grids, converted into hydrocarbon fuels, or used as broadcast power beamed to customers. It could aid security by curtailing energy scarcity and assisting energy conflict prevention and energy source security, among other things such as providing a clean technology.

The study was conducted earlier this year as a collaborative, Internet-based forum that gathered SBSP experts online.  The study group concluded among other things that SBSP could advance U.S. and partner security, that SBSP is more technically executable than ever before, and that the pursuit of SBSP requires a coordinated national program.

The group also recommended that the U.S. government do the following:

  • organize effectively to allow for the development of SBSP and conclude analyses to resolve remaining unknowns
  • retire a major portion of the technical risk for business development
  • create a facilitating policy, regulatory, and legal environment for the development of SBSP
  • become an early demonstrator/adopter/customer of SBSP and incentivize its development

Some of the major challenges cited in the report are the creation of low-cost space access and a supporting infrastructure system. MSNBC reports that a test of the SBSP concept could be put in place by 2015.

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