Accession Number:

ADA573816

Title:

Space-Based Solar Power System Architecture

Descriptive Note:

Master's thesis

Corporate Author:

NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA SPACE SYSTEMS ACADEMIC GROUP

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2012-12-01

Pagination or Media Count:

115.0

Abstract:

Fossil fuels are, by their very nature, finite resources. There are, however, numerous renewable energy sources that should be taken advantage of. One of the most abundant energy sources is also the most difficult to efficiently collect on Earth -- solar energy. This thesis explores the feasibility of a space-based solar power collection system. The thesis attempts to answer three questions 1 What orbit maximizes exposure to sunlight while minimizing cost-to-orbit, 2 Which energy transfer system allows for the most efficient energy transfer, and 3 Is a space-based solar power collection system more cost-effective than current terrestrial-based energy production systems The thesis first explores candidate orbits for such a satellite to operate from and ultimately concludes that a geostationary orbit is the most logical one to employ. The following section focuses on the spacecraft design, specifically, the solar array design, the spacecraft bus, the power transfer payload, and the spacecraft size and weight. All of the proposed energy transfer systems examined used either microwaves or lasers. The thesis concludes that a laser system would make the most efficient use of space and weight. Based on a dollar per kilowatt-hour metric, the space-based solar power collection system design developed in this research cannot compete with fossil fuels and likely will not for the foreseeable future.

Subject Categories:

  • Lasers and Masers
  • Non-electrical Energy Conversion
  • Electric Power Production and Distribution
  • Unmanned Spacecraft

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE