America Navy wants solar energy directly from space
For many years the Pentagon has been the number 1 oil consumer in the world. The continuous rise of prices has determined the military to research other ways to get energy. These researches expanded till space.
A new technology that will give the military the possibility to collect solar energy in orbit and take it to earth is being developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). Space solar energy will save the Pentagon a great deal of money, and could also simplify military arrangements. Fuel tankers wouldn’t need to reach remote or volatile areas, and missions couild be lnger.
Until now, NRL tried a couple of prototypes for the “sandwich” module, a design innovation that combines the electrical components in the two square panels. The top is made of a photovoltaic panel that takes in the light. In the middle there is an electronics system that transforms the energy to a radio frequency, and at the bottom there is an antenna that takes the power to a target on the ground.
The final project is to group the modules in space by robots and form a one kilometer satellite.
Another design, a “step” module, opens the sandwich design so it can receive more energy without the risk of overheating.
“Launching mass into space is very expensive,” said Paul Jaffe, a spacecraft engineer leading the Navy’s project.
It is said that space solar could produce a bigger quantity of energy than ground-based collectors because of the fact that the weather wouldn’t be an impediment.
“People might not associate radio waves with carrying energy, because they think of them for communications, like radio, TV, or cell phones. They don’t think about them as carrying usable amounts of power.” added Jaffe.
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