The World Is Racing to Space-Based Solar Energy

Moon-Made and Space-Made Solar Energy: A Revolutionary Leap

In several recent technological developments in the space industry, we've discussed the possibility of a moon base. The base would assist in both space manufacturing and in transmission of space solar power (Space-Based Solar Power) to Earth. The was proven with the successful test of Caltech's Space-based Solar Power Demonstrator (SSPD) which, for the first time ever, sent solar energy collected in space in the form of microwave energy transmitted and detected at the Caltech campus. The European Space Agency and companies in Japan have set the wheels for a moon base rolling.

In the pursuit of sustainable and clean energy solutions, humanity has constantly explored innovative concepts. One such groundbreaking idea is the construction of a moon-made solar station, capable of transmitting power from space to Earth.

The Butterfly-Shaped Solar Energy : European Space Agency

One pioneering project that has gained momentum in this field is the Greater Earth Lunar Power Station (GE⊕-LPS) envisioned by the European Space Agency (ESA) in collaboration with Switzerland's Astrostrom company. This ambitious undertaking aims to construct solar power satellites using lunar resources, including moon-manufactured solar cells, to provide power transmission for surface activities and potential future crewed bases.

How can such an object be launched into space. Only inks for 3D printers need to be transported to space.

ESA announces a new solar energy farm
Credit: Astrostram/ESA

Unleashing the Power of Innovation: Different Designs and Features

Drawing inspiration from the elegant butterfly, the GE⊕-LPS features a captivating design that sets it apart from traditional solar power stations. Its V-shaped solar panels, with integrated antennas arranged in a helix configuration spanning over a square kilometer, create a visual spectacle against the backdrop of the lunar surface. These cutting-edge solar panels employ iron pyrite monograin-layer solar cells produced right on the moon, not only reducing manufacturing costs but also utilizing the abundance of lunar resources, rendering the entire system self-sufficient.

The satellite would be able to deliver 23MW of energy continuously. It would also be constructed mainly from lunar resources, including Moon-manufactured solar cells using iron pyrite.

From the the Earth

Moon-made solar power satellites would require approximately five times less velocity change compared to satellites launched from Earth in order to be placed into geostationary orbit. This significant reduction in velocity change is a key advantage of the lunar-based approach. By establishing the manufacturing processes and assembly techniques on the Moon, we can tap into its resources and leverage them to construct solar power satellites more efficiently, potentially serving as a sustainable and clean energy solution for our planet.

In addition to the environmental benefits, the successful implementation of lunar-based solar power satellites would also open up a range of other opportunities. It could lead to the development of a lunar transportation system, as well as mining, processing, and manufacturing facilities on the Moon and in orbit, fostering a two-planet economy and advancing the progress of a spacefaring civilization. (*we realize the moon is a satellite of Earth, not a planet and we did not coin the phrase.)

If scaled up, we never need another problem-ridden grid again. The oil and has industries should be very afraid.

Astrostrom's study indicates that the required technologies for the realization of GE⊕-LPS, including lunar surface mining, beneficiation, and fabrication, are either already in use or under development on Earth. This suggests that these technologies can be adapted to the lunar environment and delivered to the Moon in modular form, with tele-robotic management. Moreover, the financial assessment conducted by Astrostrom demonstrates that lunar-produced solar power satellites would not only be more cost-effective than their Earth-made counterparts, but the electricity they generate would also be competitive with terrestrial power alternatives.

Overall, the development and successful deployment of lunar-based solar power satellites, exemplified by GE⊕-LPS, offer a promising pathway to overcome the limitations and environmental concerns associated with launching solar power satellites from Earth. By harnessing the resources and advantages offered by the Moon, we can unlock the potential of SBSP and contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable energy future for our planet.

Shimizu Japan: The Luna Ring Around the Moon

The Luna Ring, as envisioned by Shimizu Corporation, is a colossal undertaking that aims to encircle the moon's equator with a 250-mile-wide band of solar panels that is projected to be complete in 2030. This impressive structure, stretching 6,800 miles around the circumference of the moon, could generate an astounding stream of 13,000 terawatts of power. To put this in perspective, the total installed electricity generation summer capacity in the United States was 1,050.9 gigawatts (GW). The potential of such an immense energy resource is transformative for our civilization. This project will not be complete until 2030.

Why is Japan going all out? This project has been in the works since 2011 when the Fukushima nuclear disaster sent scientists scrambling for new ways to produce energy cheaply. It's incredible that it's being started at the same time others had space-based solar power handed to them from a Caltech experiment that made it all relevant.

a ring around the moon solar station
Credit: Shimizu Corp.


The Promise of Lunar Solar Power

Harnessing the moon's constant exposure to sunlight, the Luna Ring has the capability to revolutionize clean energy generation. Solar arrays positioned on the lunar surface would collect solar power, which would then be beamed back to Earth through advanced microwave and laser transmitters. These transmitters, strategically located on the Earth-facing side of the moon, would feed the harvested energy into receiving stations across the globe. As the moon orbits the Earth and the Earth rotates, a continuous supply of lunar solar power would be transmitted to electricity grids worldwide, providing a sustainable and green energy resource for humanity. It would be built by robots, of course.


shimizu master plan for a solar station on the moon
Credit: Shimizu

Virtus Solar Energy: A Constellation of  Satellites

Space manufacturing startup Orbital Composites and space energy company Virtus Solis are partnering to construct a satellite constellation that will transmit solar power to ground stations on Earth. The collaboration aims to develop a megawatt-scale space-based solar power station capable of collecting energy from the Sun and beaming it down to Earth. The last thing we need is probably more satellites but this idea, is simple and has already been accomplished by an academic lab at CalTech.

Virtus Solis successfully tested wireless microwave power transmission, where solar power was beamed across 328 feet (100 meters). The company plans to scale up this technology for the upcoming space-based power station.  Orbital Composites has received funding from Space Force and the Navy through Small Business Innovation Research contracts to develop robotics for in-space manufacturing and service. Such an infrastructure is easy to build but will need replacing all the time. It's not the best long term idea but it can be implemented quickly.

The proposed satellite constellation will operate in a highly elliptical orbit known as Molniya orbit.


molniya orbit solar station
Credit: NASA/Wikimedia

Hexagonal-shaped satellites will be launched into space using reusable rockets, and robots will assemble them into a circular array. The completed array will have a width ranging from 0.3 to 1.9 miles (0.5 to 3 kilometers) and will transmit power to ground stations 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) in diameter, providing power to 150,000 customers.

Advancements in Space Technologies

The realization of the Luna Ring necessitates significant advancements in space technologies and robotics. Robots would play a crucial role in the construction process, performing various tasks on the lunar surface, including ground leveling and excavation of hard bottom strata. These robotic endeavors would be overseen by a team of humans, with teleoperation capabilities from Earth. The development of robotic technologies and precise control mechanisms is essential to execute this grand engineering task.

If we consider these options, and reach them quickly, we can not only fix the energy crisis, saving the environment and money. Power is free by virtue of there being a sun.

Challenges and International Collaboration

Constructing the Luna Ring is a complex undertaking that presents several challenges. The existing international space treaties may require revisions to accommodate the ambitious goals and technological advancements required for this project to come to fruition. The cooperation of nations and companies would be vital in overcoming the logistical, technical, and financial hurdles associated with such a vast and transformative initiative. These project, from the ESA (Butterfly), Shimizu Corp (ring around the moon), and Virtus Solis (a network of satellites) are all different and independently approached projects.

The Benefits of Lunar Solar Energy

The implementation of lunar solar power offers numerous benefits beyond clean energy generation and reduces so much waste, greed, and violence on Earth for power, literal energy and also figurative power. Once the infrastructure is established, the lunar surface could be further utilized for mining precious minerals and fabricating products from regolith. This opens up possibilities for international collaboration, where nations and companies could invest in the construction of receiving stations in their preferred geographical locations, fostering a global shift towards sustainable and environmentally friendly power sources.

It can be selectively beamed to Earth even in barren, isolated regions, like those struck by famine and warfare. These companies are not doing this because the payout on the investment.  The people who free consumers from the chains of the power grid will make almost pure profit and eliminate resources to destructive processes on earth.

Space-Based Solar Energy: A Sustainable Future

The proposal of a moon-made solar station, exemplified by the ambitious Luna Ring concept, represents a paradigm shift in energy generation. By harnessing the moon's abundant sunlight and transmitting the collected energy back to Earth, we have the potential to revolutionize the way we meet our global energy demands. The realization of this extraordinary vision requires advancements in space technologies, robotic capabilities, and international collaboration. Embracing this revolutionary concept can lead us towards a sustainable future powered by clean and limitless energy from space.

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