US leadership in space is threatened by the emerging capabilities of other nations, including some that are potentially hostile. The NASA program in human spaceflight needs to become part of an effective strategy aimed at protecting vital US interests in the development of extraterrestrial resources.
The National Research Council's ad hoc committee on Human Spaceflight requested the public to provide advice about the future of NASA and commercial space. Two papers were submitted by members of Solar High: a 6-page paper by Phil Chapman and a 4-page paper by Gordon Woodcock.
The Committee received 200+ essays, which are all listed, with links to each paper, at this page of the National Academies website. They accepted all inputs, so the quality varies, but many are thoughtful discussions.
A pre-publication draft of the long-awaited Report was released on June 4, 2014. It is called “Pathways to Exploration -- Rationales and Approaches for a U.S. Program of Human Space Exploration.” A PDF is available for download from www.nap.edu .
As discussed in this critique, we are not impressed.
An Update to Space-Based Solar Power
Hubert Davis published a 20-page update containing technical, market and policy information about the current status of Space-Based Solar Power. This document was shared with policy makers in Congress. It contains illustrations, graphs and tables and gives these recommendations:
- Announce now that the United States of America is interested in a global project, to be led by the U.S., to develop and deploy solar power satellite systems to benefit all mankind.
- Initiate a modest technology development program early in CY2013 to decide whether or not to embark upon full-scale development beginning in early 2014 to culminate in flight test of a multi-MW output pilot plant to be located in geo-stationary orbit.
- In the first and second quarters of CY 2013, we suggest $100 million for renewed system study of the scale done in 1970’s. In addition, $100 million should be devoted to conduct technology development and test to reduce risks. Assign this project management to the NASA Johnson Space Center with participation of NASA Centers Marshall. Langley. Glenn, and Ames. Arrange for active participation by teams of DoD, DoE & Commerce personnel. Competitively contract the bulk of the work to U.S. firms.
- In the third quarter of CY 2013, formalize a consortium of U.S. Government and U.S. industry with friendly nations invited to participate in future projects of this type in a meaningful manner involving their substantive support. (However, do not involve the United Nations).
- Before the end of 2013, form a new management structure for the consortium of
industry, government and friendly nations to implement subsequent stages of the
The Electric Economy is Coming
In 2004, Dr Chapman presented a paper at the 55th International Astronautical Congress in Vancouver about the need to reduce oil imports. He suggested introduction of plug-in hybrid cars using compressed natural gas, with pick-ups that would let them draw power from suitably equipped electrified highways. This plan would greatly improve highway travel, reducing operational costs and permitting hands-off automated driving -- and it would also create a major potential market for space-based solar power.
Since then, horizontal drilling, "fracking" and access to hydrates under the Arctic permafrost have substantially expanded reserves of methane (or natural gas). Moreover, researchers at MIT have demonstrated WiTricity (wireless transfer of electric power over distances of several meters by resonant magnetic coupling) and workers at Stanford are now applying this technology to building electric highways. These developments mean that the electric economy is now a practical near-term prospect.
Briefing at US Air Force's
Energy Horizon Industry Day
July 18, 2011, Washington DC – Philip K. Chapman, Chairman of SolarHigh.org, gave a briefing at the US Air Force’s Energy Horizons Industry Day. It was hosted by Dr. Mark Maybury, the Air Force’s Chief Scientist. Main conclusions from Dr. Chapman’s slides, Tactical and Strategic Implications of Space Based Solar Power (SBSP), include the US is able to deploy SBSP within 7 years with technologies now at Technology Readiness Level 6+ and that a study of national security implications of SBSP is urgently needed. Information from this event will contribute to a USAF policy paper on its energy strategy.
Energy for the 21st Century
The growing demand for electric power requires a 50% increase in worldwide generating capacity during the next 25 years. The present prospect is for much greater consumption of coal, nuclear energy and natural gas. Solar energy is the only conceivable alternative, but terrestrial sunlight is too intermittent and diffuse for wholesale power applications. Fortunately, the economies of scale in meeting energy needs overcome the barriers to deployment of solar collectors in space, where sunlight is continuous and intense. Solar power satellites can provide clean, affordable, inexhaustible energy anywhere on Earth.
The Solar High Study Group is a small team of senior engineers and policy analysts who are working to make space-based solar power a reality in the United States and around the world.
Making it Happen
Let's make it happen by posing thoughtful questions that elicit more information, that can be translated into policy decisions. Let's provide answers that are informed with real-world awareness of factors from business, technology and policy. Let's turn data into information and actions that can be taken by all segments that are concerned with the future of clean, inexhaustible and worldwide energy. Start by responding to the overview of the current status of space-based solar power. Download the PDF and share it with others.