In his book, “The High Frontier“, Professor Gerard K. O’Neill recognized that there would need to be commercial reasons to build the first Space Colonies. The inspirational work posited that we need to live in space as well as on earth, after all why have all your eggs in one basket?Â
To futher the possibility of SPS,Â he expanded the early work of Arthur C. Clarke, and detailed how Solar Power Satellites would not only encourage space colonization, but also create a source of clean, un-ending energy for the burgeoning population of planet earth.Â
The concept is pretty simple, and workable — solar collectors in Low Earth Orbit could collect sunlight 24×7, uninterrupted by clouds and atmosphere. They could in turn beam it to earth via microwaves, or via laser. Either method can work, and both have been tested at a distance. (in experiments in the ’80’s power was beamed several miles through near-sea level atmosphere by microwave without much beam spread – since then technology has progressed by leaps and bounds.)
The concept of colonizing space is still being carried forward by the National Space Society, but somewhere along the way the idea of Solar Power Satellites fell out of public discourse, it’s good to see it surface again.
It’s back again, as the government is now opening a study to see if it’s a viable energy solution. This is some of the best news I’ve heard in a while, story at Wired.