It’s nice to see this idea is still being kicked around – and taken more seriously now that oil prices are rising so dramatically. It wouldn’t take that much, the folks at inventorspot.com and the National Security Space Office are saying, to get all the electricity the planet needs using space-based solar cells:
One of the biggest technical challenges of the plan is in launching the satellite, which would have a mass of about 3,000 tons-more than 10 times that of the International Space Station. Such a feat would require the development of lower-cost space launches. Today the United States initiates less than 15 launches per year. Construction of a single SBSP satellite alone would require in excess of 120 such launches.
“SBSP cannot be constructed without safe, frequent (daily/weekly), cheap, and reliable access to space and ubiquitous in-space operations,” the report states. “By lowering the cost to orbit so substantially, and by providing safe and routine access, entirely new industries and possibilities open up.” These possibilities may include space tourism, manufacturing, lunar or asteroid resource utilization, and eventually settlement to extend the human race, the report suggests.
So there might be something more to the X-Prize and SpaceshipOne than just hauling billionaires to orbiting Club Meds.