The US Air Force Plans to Transmit Solar Power Collected in Space down to the Ground

Nov 6, 2019 07:51 PM ET
  • The Space Solar project will supply electricity to distant military posts, with no necessity to endanger convoys.
The US Air Force Plans to Transmit Solar Power Collected in Space down to the Ground

The United States Air Force is researching radiation gathered in space downward to Earth to provide the distant military positions with sufficient electrical power. Such a technology is predicted to reduce the quantity of fuel-loaded convoys which must cross dangerous areas where they can be easily attacked. 

The Air Force cooperates with Northrop Grumman Corporation on Space Solar Power Initiative. SSPI is meant to gather sun power in space with the help of PV panels, invert it into RF emission and then send it downward to remote military positions. 

Space Solar project offers a few attractive advantages. The optimal location for sun power collection is space. The atmosphere of our planet reflects approximately 30% of the power collected back. If located in a correct way, solar satellites can be directed totally toward sun, producing maximum electricity volume. It is endless noon in space, 24/7. 

The only challenge of such systems is how to get electricity to earth. Cable laying from space to the earth is impractical, that is why the USAF would like to turn electricity to some media which could be delivered in a wireless way, for example in the form of radiofrequency. There will be special on-earth stations to receive the signals and convert them back into electricity. 

Today, in battle areas throughout the globe, the American military forces send convoys to deliver fuel for generators to distant outposts. The convoys with diesel-loaded lorries are vulnerable to hostile attacks. Thanks to Space Solar stations, energy will be transmitted directly to a military post, without the necessity to send soldiers to dangerous zones. 

The PV panels installed on satellites are likely to be two times larger than a normal football field. The project is still under development, no time schedule for the system ready to use is yet announced.

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