IT'S RELIABLE...WILL PROBABLY LAST BILLIONS OF YEARS, AND IF YOU COLLECT ITS ENERGY FROM ABOVE?
Goldstone with Tracking Dish
Dr. Kraft Sync
Super Title: Dr. Christopher C. Kraft Director, Johnson Space Center
Animation shows completed satellite and beaming microwave to earth
Dr. Kraft Sync
Intercut construction animation
Solar Satellite Artist concept
Dr. Kraft Sync
Microwave energy beamed to a city
Solar Satellite and the sun
"And we feel that it not only has feasibility, both economically and technically, but that it also fits the other programs which NASA is going to be doing in the '80s with the Space Shuttle. Because we need large structures, we need large amounts of power in space, by itself, to carry out the things that we see are going to make space productive in helping to produce products for use on the earth, as well as to help solving some of the problems we have on earth."
"There are many ways to construct this thing, probably by doing it -- carrying the raw materials up and actually building the beams that would support it in space. These devices are generally available even here on the earth today; there are varying kinds of machines that just take flat stock of material and roll them up and weld them into varying kinds of shapes, such as Sears and Roebuck today makes aluminum or steel gutters. Now the thing you have to remember that's different about building a structure in space as compared to the earth is that it doesn't have to support its own weight. So it's much lighter to begin with; you don't have to worry about these large masses supporting themselves, so it can be stiff without being heavy."
"So one of these stations would be equivalent to producing all of the electrical energy for both industrial and home purposes, domestic purposes, in the city and urban area the size of Washington, D.C., or Houston, or San Francisco, or Chicago, etc. So one of these stations is a very, very powerful electrical energy producer."
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Background: IT'S RELIABLE...WILL PROBABLY LAST BILLIONS OF YEARS, AND IF YOU COLLECT ITS ENERGY FROM ABOVE THE EARTH'S ATMOSPHERE IN SPACE, IT CAN BE DONE CONTINUOUSLY. THE SUN...A GIGANTIC NUCLEAR FURNACE THAT AFFECTS EVERYTHING ON OUR PLANET FROM WEATHER TO RADIO SIGNALS.
AT THE GOLDSTONE STATION IN CALIFORNIA, A TRACKING DISH IS BEING USED TO SIMULATE AN ENERGY SATELLITE IN SPACE. IT SENDS AN INVISIBLE BEAM OF MICROWAVE ENERGY TO THIS RECTENNA WHICH REPRESENTS A GROUND RECEIVING STATION. THE MICROWAVE IS CONVERTED TO ELECTRICITY AND POWERS THE LIGHTS YOU SEE HERE. THIS IS A SMALL SCALE DEMONSTRATION OF HOW A SOLAR SATELLITE WOULD SEND ITS POWER BACK TO EARTH.
BY BUILDING HUGE SOLAR SATELLITES IN SPACE, NASA BELIEVES SOME THE SUN'S TREMENDOUS ENERGY CAN BE CAPTURED TO LESSEN OUR DEPENDENCE ON MORE CONVENTIONAL FOSSIL FUELS.
FOR SHEER SIZE, A SOLAR SATELLITE WOULD BE UNPRECEDENTED. A STRUCTURE 35 TO 40 SQUARE MILES COVERED WITH SOLAR CELLS...ABLE TO CAPTURE THE SUN'S ENERGY 24 HOURS A DAY, AND BEAM IT TO EARTH. ONE SOLAR SATELLITE WOULD PROBABLY WEIGH FROM 100 TO 150 MILLION POUNDS -- AS MUCH AS TWO WORLD WAR II BATTLESHIPS.
SOLAR SATELLITES WILL COST BILLIONS OF DOLLARS, BUT OVER A 30-YEAR OPERATING LIFE, THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO PAY FOR THEMSELVES. THE COUNTRY'S PROJECTED ENERGY NEEDS IN THE EARLY PART OF THE NEXT CENTURY WILL BE 2- TIMES WHAT THEY ARE TODAY. DR. KRAFT FEELS WE COULD BE PRODUCING 20 TO 30% OF OUR TOTAL ENERGY BY THAT TIME USING SOLAR SATELLITES, WITH EACH SATELLITE GENERATING 10,000 MEGAWATTS. FIFTY OF THESE STATIONS WOULD PROVIDE ALL OF THESE STATIONS WOULD PROVIDE ALL OF THE POWER THAT IS BEING PRODUCED IN THE UNITED STATES TODAY.
SPACE SOLAR POWER....PERHAPS THE MOST EFFICIENT WAY TO COLLECT ENERGY FROM THE SUN IN THE YEARS AHEAD.