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In the World of Science: XLXVII - Giant Solar Power Stations

 
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tinkeringIdiot



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 6:14 pm    Post subject: In the World of Science: XLXVII - Giant Solar Power Stations Reply with quote

Japan is launching a $21bn initiative to put a 1GW power station into orbit that will beam power back to earth. NASA has a similar program going that isn't widely publicized.
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This idea always seems to be looked at in fits and starts from the standpoint of official projects. The problem seems to always be the multiple launches of heavy lift vehicles required to get those panels in place, and then the actual assembly in orbit.
Oddly, the microwave transmission of power from the satellite to the ground station isn't such a technical problem, or even very hazardous: the microwaves generated in your kitchen's magic box are specifically picked because they have a certain wavelength than excites water molecules. A lot of the microwave end of the spectrum can travel right through clouds, pigeons, human flesh, burritos etc. without doing much of anything. You could actually build the receiving antenna grid right over a farm and not hurt the people, critters, or crops.
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tinkeringIdiot



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw a lecture three or four years ago given by an engineer from ASME over the NASA version of this project. The proposed array is substantially larger than what the Japanese are working with, so the heavy-lift problem would be even greater. The solution? According to that speaker, NASA plans called for the panels and other bulky components to be built on the moon using materials mined from the lunar surface. Classic boundary condition switch: getting heavy objects into orbit is expensive...at Earth gravity.
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But then you have to build the mine/refinery/factory on the moon too. Wouldn't a self-contained moon industry take even more effort and launches than the panel array?
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tinkeringIdiot



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That would depend on the expected service life of the array as well as the possibility of other uses for the moon base. Since the array would need periodic maintenance, the manufacturing base would have some predictable break-even point. Also, it would be really fricken sweet.
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Yorick



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 12:57 am    Post subject: Re: In the World of Science: XLXVII - Giant Solar Power Stat Reply with quote

tinkeringIdiot wrote:
Japan is launching a $21bn initiative to put a 1GW power station into orbit that will beam power back to earth. NASA has a similar program going that isn't widely publicized.

It's no good unless they get up to 1.21GW.
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

But it'll probably transmit to the ground with only about 80-85% efficiency, so you couldn't use it to power a time machine.


tinkeringIdiot wrote:
That would depend on the expected service life of the array as well as the possibility of other uses for the moon base. Since the array would need periodic maintenance, the manufacturing base would have some predictable break-even point. Also, it would be really fricken sweet.

Yeah, I was thinking the'd have to re-purpose it after a while. Maybe they could use to to make small, efficient family cars and send them back to the US?
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Unnamed?



Joined: 14 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 6:27 pm    Post subject: Re: In the World of Science: XLXVII - Giant Solar Power Stat Reply with quote

Yorick wrote:
tinkeringIdiot wrote:
Japan is launching a $21bn initiative to put a 1GW power station into orbit that will beam power back to earth. NASA has a similar program going that isn't widely publicized.

It's no good unless they get up to 1.21GW.


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mouse



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nono - make small, efficient family cars, then send the people up there to use them.
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