Apr 5, 2010

Awe-inspiring space-based solar projects

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In the Hollywood movie Moon, Sam Rockwell goes on to explain how someday the moon will benefit Earth with the much-needed energy. At this time, it may sound like a paranoid flight of human imagination, a zero-plausibility scenario or a sci-fi; however, researchers are actually groping into space for some sort of respite from the acute power crunch. We enumerate some of these space-ventures to highlight how far we have come.
NASA installed solar panels in space to provide electricity to ISS:
nasa solar wings
Back in the year 2005, NASA unfurled its $372 million solar wings to supply the International Space Station with a quarter of the solar power that it required to keep orbiting until 2010. The 240-feet long wings containing solar panels follow the sun’s movement to maximize the amount of electricity generated. The wings looked like a giant accordion flung in the space.
Mitsubishi to install a huge solar farm in space
space solar power_js1mg_24429
Mitsubishi Electric Corp., a manufacturer of solar panels, joined an AUD $25 billion Japanese projectto construct a massive solar farm in space within three decades. The 1-gigawatt solar farm would include four square kilometers of solar panels that will be stationed 36,000 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. The electricity generated would be enough to supply power to nearly 294,000 average Tokyo homes. In 2015, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), leader of the project, will launch a small satellite consisting of solar panels to test beam energy from space.
$2 billion PG&E project promises solar power from space by 2016:
pge space solar project
PG&E joins forces with California-based SolarEn Corp. to install a solar powered space station 22,000 miles above the Earth’s equator that would consist of a series of solar powered satellites. The system would generate electricity, convert it into radio waves and then transmit to a base station on Earth. PG&E hopes to generate 200 MW of power by 2016.
Virgin Galactic proposes space tourism:
space tourism virgin galactic
In next 20 years, Virgin Galactic hopes to organize long haul trips in solar-powered spaceships to commercialize space travel. Where a ticket for the space-venture would cost $200,000, the company has already collected $40 million in deposits from would-be space tourists. Virgin claims that its technology is more eco-friendly than conventional rocket technology. Viewing Earth from space would be a pleasing experience; reserved for super-rich clients, of course.
EADS Astrium’s Space Power Concept:
eads astrium space power concept
Europe’s biggest space company EADS Astrium is developing a satellite system that would collect solar energy and send it to Earth via an infrared laser. The company is looking toward space agencies, the EU or national governments and even power companies to join hands. Since the amount of energy falling on photovoltaic cells placed in orbit is considerably greater than the same solar panels positioned on the Earth’s surface, the energy produced is much more than in the latter scenario. Atrium proposes to overcome the hurdles: the cost of launching and assembling large solar stations in orbit, the energy loss during conversion, and certain safety issues, by using infrared lasers.
About The Author
I'm Balaji Wishvam, an engineering student in Tamilnadu, India. I'm but interested in arts and animation a lot.I’m more interested in PHOTOGRAPHY a lot… I’ve shifting thoughts and got some interest in Technology too particularly in innovative gadgets, robotics, quantum physics, etc.
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