Saturday, November 29, 2014

No. 860: Developing space power generation is accelerating (November 29, 2014)

An industry-government-university alliance will accelerate the development efforts for the practical application of space power generation. The Japanese government, Japan Space Systems, MitsubishiElectric, IHI Aerospace, and others will conduct the world’s first experiment to transmit electricity generated by space power generation on the ground in Kyoto University coming December. To put space power generation into practical utilization, it is necessary to install a huge solar panel on the geostationary orbit 36,000 km above the ground, transform the generated electricity to microwave, and transmit the microwave to the earth wirelessly. The microwave received by the antenna on the ground is transformed to electricity.   

The experiment will be conducted from December 5 to the end of March next year. The research team members have built small equipment for the research. They will transform electricity to radio called microwave and transmit it to the reception antenna on the ground about 50 m away from the small equipment. They will examine whether or not they can control the direction of radio transmission finely and transform ratio to electricity without waste. Equipment for space power generation needs to be lighter and smaller to realize space power generation. At the present technological level, it is estimated to cost 1-2 trillion yen to launch necessary equipment. Based on the results of the ground experiment, the research members will accelerate the efforts to reduce the weight of transmission equipment to about one fourth.

The Japanese government plans to conduct transmission experiment in space in the 2030s and put space power generation into practical utilization after the 2040s. It will publish a road map for the practical utilization next year. It has already announced its decision to promote the development of space power generation in the draft of the Basic Plan for Space Policy published in November. 

Introduction to space power generation

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