A few weeks ago, Tobias posted about the US military and eco-technology. In it, he jokingly suggested an eco-DARPA. As it turns out, the military seems headed in that direction, specifically with a space-based solar power station that would beam energy down to the surface.
The idea is that the Pentagon has decided that energy independence is now a national security issue, and as such falls under their purview. In addition, this orbiting power station would negate the need for long fuel supply lines. Units could have needed energy beamed down directly from orbit. Another benefit of having the military act as the early adopter is that prices should begin to decrease almost immediately, making it more affordable for commercial enterprises to license the technology for civilian consumption.
As with all things governmental, we’ll have to wait and see. This may just be pie-in-the-sky, it may be an enormous financial boondoggle for no-bid contracts, it may work spectacularly, or more probably something in between. But keep your eyes peeled on this one over at its very own blog.
6 thoughts on “US military proposes space-based solar power station”
Another application of such a power station is strictly military – a space-based weapon platform. The microwave energy created by the station does not have to be broadly attenuated. Instead of a wide cone of microwaves, suitable for power, the beam could be focused into an efficient weapon.
Remember that just about anything can be used as a weapon. This system isn’t built to be able to focus the beam – it’s military interest is in getting rid of the huge cost of getting fuel to the front lines.
We can’t exclude efforts like this for these reasons – if we don’t do something, and soon, it won’t be our aptitude for war that kills us all.
You both bring up a good point. I thought there was an international treaty banning space weapons. Turns out, there is: the Space Preservation Treaty, but it’s not been ratified by the US. The only other treaty, the Outer Space Treaty – signed by 98 countries including the US, bans weapons of mass destruction, which I don’t think a microwave beam can be counted as.
This seems like it would be useful in wartime, but not necessarily as a weapon. If you invade a country and set up bases, tapping the power grid can be tricky, especially if you’ve smeared it with smart bombs. But with energy beaming down from space, you only have to throw down a few collection grids and — boom! — you have a fully powered forward post. Plug in your SWORDS, and it’s blow some stuff up time, wheee!
Heck, you could use this tech to decrease the amount of fuel non-nuclear naval units use, or to bathe soldiers in a field of tappable energy so they don’t have to lug tens of batteries everywhere, or extend the range of tanks, planes, etc.
perhaps, but this type of technology hasn’t been full understand yet. As such, if you were to build at least 20 solar platform around the equator of the planet. where there is a high chance of solar energy incoming than you will be able to have a near indefiniteness source of energy. but with other countries that build this network of solar collectors than there is the possibility that this power source maybe abused. thought this is only in theory.
The USA negotiates and proposes treaties but almost never ratifies them.
Such a station could also make it possible to control a population very easily.
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