China is two years ahead of its program to launch a solar power plant into space that will redirect energy to Earth.
A similar power project was proposed by NASA more than two decades ago but never developed, when the UK government conducted independent research in support of 16 billion UK versions to orbit here in 2035.
First launch for ChinaThe project is scheduled for 2028, when an experimental satellite will test the technology used to transmit power from the power plant in orbit at a distance of about 400 kilometers (248 miles).
The satellite will “convert solar energy into microwaves or lasers and then direct the energy rays to various targets, including the exact location of the Earth and moving satellites,” according to the South China Morning Post.
The plans were detailed in a peer-reviewed article published in the Chinese Space Science and Technology Journal.
According to UK-funded space solar power research, satellites in geosynchronous orbit receive sunlight for more than 99% of the time – and at a much higher intensity than Earth’s solar panels.
The idea is to “collect this massive amount of solar energy in orbit and send it safely to a certain point on Earth,” the UK-funded paper said.
These rays may be directed to other countries “either as energy exports, or as part of our foreign development assistance, or to support areas of humanitarian catastrophe.”
Unlike terrestrial renewable energy sources, orbital solar power plants will be able to supply energy to the earth day and night at any time of the year and whatever the weather.
However, according to Professor Dong Xue, a Chinese newspaper writer, there are significant technical challenges that have yet to be resolved.
Significant distances would require a huge antenna to direct high-powered microwaves – potentially thousands of meters long – while solar wind, gravity and satellite navigation could interfere with the transmission of energy.
The plan would see a four-step solar-powered space station. Two years after the first test launch, in 2030, China will launch a more powerful power plant in a 36,000 km geosynchronous orbit.
Although the test station’s power output will be 10 kilowatts, the largest power plant will be able to deliver 10 megawatts by 2035 “chosen by military and civilian users”.
The technology will improve by 2050 – and the station will be large enough – to allow an output of around two gigawatts, equivalent to the output of most UK offshore power stations.
This means the outposts will be commercially viable.
Read more: China launches three astronauts to complete new space station
Last year, a government research firm in China presented a design plan and Build “huge” spacecraftPossibly a few kilometers wide, which would gather pieces into space.
Construction of a large space facility has already been completed, requiring more than a decade to assemble and build 40 ISS flights.
But the massive constructions proposed by China’s National Natural Science Foundation will drastically embrace the ISS, measuring only 357 feet from edge to end, and it could take decades or even centuries to build.
These constructions have been described by the NSFC as “the future use of space resources, the search for the mysteries of the universe and the major strategic space tools for long-term existence in orbit”.