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Preliminary Results From NASA's Space Solar Power Exploratory Research and Technology ProgramLarge solar power satellite (SPS) systems that might provide base load power into terrestrial markets were examined extensively in the 1970s by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Following a hiatus of about 15 years, the subject of space solar power (SSP) was reexamined by NASA from 1995-1997 in the "fresh look" study, and during 1998 in an SSP "concept definition study". As a result of these efforts, during 1999-2000, NASA has been conducting the SSP Exploratory Research and Technology (SERT) program. The goal of the SERT activity has been to conduct preliminary strategic technology research and development to enable large, multi-megawatt SSP systems and wireless power transmission (WPT) for government missions and commercial markets (in-space and terrestrial). In pursuing that goal, the SERT: (1) refined and modeled systems approaches for the utilization of SSP concepts and technologies, ranging from the near-term (e.g., for space science, exploration and commercial space applications) to the far-term (e.g., SSP for terrestrial markets), including systems concepts, architectures, technology, infrastructure (e.g. transportation), and economics; (2) conducted technology research, development and demonstration activities to produce "proof-of-concept" validation of critical SSP elements for both nearer and farther-term applications; and (3) engendered the beginnings of partnerships (nationally and internationally) that could be expanded, as appropriate, to pursue later SSP technology and applications. Through these efforts, the SERT should allow better informed future decisions regarding further SSP and related technology research and development investments by both NASA and prospective partners, and guide further definition of technology roadmaps - including performance objectives, resources and schedules, as well as "multi-purpose" applications (e.g., commerce, science, and government). This paper presents preliminary results from the SERT effort at a summary level, including the study approach, SPS concepts, applications findings, and concludes with a revised assessment of the prospects for solar power satellites using SSP technologies and systems.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Howell, Joe T. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Mankins, John C. (NASA Headquarters Washington, DC United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2000
Subject Category
Energy Production and Conversion
Meeting Information
51st International Astronautics Congress(Rio de Janeiro)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.