The United States’ space agency, NASA, is currently in the process of developing a satellite with a design resembling that of a glass tumbler. This satellite has the potential to provide one-third of the world’s energy needs by the year 2025.
Dr. John Mankins and his team, assigned by NASA to explore the possibility of using solar power panels in space to transmit energy back to Earth, have designed a satellite known as SPS-ALPHA, which bears a resemblance to a glass tumbler.
In a recent interview, Dr. Mankins asserted that the SPS-ALPHA satellite could potentially be launched into space as early as 2025, contingent upon funding.
“A satellite that generates electricity from solar energy, like SPS-ALPHA, could fulfill the electricity demands of one-third of the Earth’s population upon completion, but issues related to consumption markets need to be addressed,” stated Dr. Mankins.
The SPS-ALPHA satellite system consists of thousands of thin, concave mirrors that can be repositioned to capture sunlight optimally. Inside the satellite are photovoltaic panels capable of converting solar energy into waves. These waves are then transmitted to ground stations from the base of the “glass tumbler.” These stations will convert the received energy into electricity and transmit it to consumers.
“If successful, this project could potentially construct colossal satellites comprising tens of thousands of solar panels, capable of generating tens to thousands of megawatts of electricity transmitted via wireless systems to Earth and space stations,” Dr. Mankins added.
The solar energy available in space is billions of times greater than what we use on Earth, and the concept of transmitting solar energy from space to Earth has long been considered a solution to meet our ever-increasing energy demands.
Last year, scientists at the University of Strathclyde in the United States conducted tests on a device in space capable of harnessing solar energy and transmitting it back to Earth using microwaves or laser beams. This research is also part of NASA’s project to establish power plants in space, led by Dr. Mankins.