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Harvest the Sun - From Space; use ISS for proof-of-concept

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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 11:43 AM
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Harvest the Sun - From Space; use ISS for proof-of-concept
Edited on Wed Jul-23-08 11:48 AM by bananas
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/23/opinion/23smith.html

Paul Davis


Op-Ed Contributor

Harvest the Sun — From Space

By O. GLENN SMITH
Published: July 23, 2008
Houston

<snip>

Companies like Space Exploration Technologies and Orbital Sciences, working in conjunction with NASA’s public-private Commercial Orbital Transportation Services initiative, have been developing the capacity for very low cost launchings to the International Space Station. This same technology could be adapted to sending up a solar power satellite system.

Still, because building the first operational space solar power system will be very costly, a practical first step would be to conduct a test using the International Space Station as a “construction shack” to house the astronauts and equipment. The station’s existing solar panels could be used for the demonstration project, and its robotic manipulator arms could assemble the large transmitting antenna. While the station’s location in orbit would permit only intermittent transmission of power back to Earth, a successful test would serve as what scientists call “proof of concept.”

Over the past 15 years, Americans have invested more than $100 billion, directly and indirectly, on the space station and supporting shuttle flights. With an energy crisis deepening, it’s time to begin to develop a huge return on that investment. (And for those who worry that science would lose out to economics, there’s no reason that work on space solar power couldn’t go hand in hand with work toward a manned mission to Mars, advanced propulsion systems and other priorities of the space station.)

In fact, in a time of some skepticism about the utility of our space program, NASA should realize that the American public would be inspired by our astronauts working in space to meet critical energy needs here on Earth.

O. Glenn Smith is a former manager of science and applications experiments for the International Space Station at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

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Hydra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 12:06 PM
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1. Why not?
We already have so much junk up there, we may as well put something up there that sends clean power back :evilgrin:
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Trillo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 12:35 PM
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2. Hmm. Must be getting close to time to privitize.
Now that all these taxpayer dollars have been spent in research, now it's time for some "profit" for the few. Oh, glory be.
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