Credit By: EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY
A solar station built on the Moon might supply power to Earth from orbit.
The transmission of solar energy from space to Earth, also known as space-based solar power (SBSP), is a cutting-edge option being investigated by the European Space Agency (ESA) to assist us in meeting our climate targets.
The two main benefits of harnessing the sun’s power from above our planet are access to higher energy intensities and the absence of weather dependence, a significant issue with terrestrial methods.
The ESA and the European IT sector have joined forces to work on the Solaris project to evaluate the viability of SBSP. One of these partners is the Swiss company Astrostrom, which aims to bring solar energy from orbit to the Moon before expanding to Earth.
Energizing the Moon
At a Lagrange point between the Earth and the Moon, around 61,350 kilometers from the lunar surface, the startup is investigating the architecture of a solar-powered spacecraft inspired by butterflies. The so-called Greater Earth Lunar Power Station (GE-LPS) is a helix-shaped structure that covers more than a square kilometer and comprises V-shaped solar panels with built-in antennas.
The satellite would be able to continuously transmit 23 MW of energy. Additionally, it would be built primarily from lunar resources, such as iron pyrite-based solar cells produced on the Moon.
Future manned bases and ongoing lunar operations would receive more than just power from the GE-LPS. Additionally, it would serve as a model for settlements in cislunar space, provide artificial gravity to benefit adaptive health, and possibly serve as a tourist destination.
To the Earth from the Moon
The deployment of SBSP to our planet, which is experiencing a climatic crisis, might be made possible critically by its successful execution.
According to Sanjay Vijendran, who is in charge of the Solaris project, “Launching large numbers of gigawatt-scale solar power satellites into orbit from the surface of the Earth would run into the problem of a lack of launch capacity as well as potentially significant atmospheric pollution.”
However, after a concept like GE-LPS has demonstrated the component production procedures and assembly idea of a solar power satellite in lunar orbit, it can be scaled up to generate additional sun power satellites from lunar resources to serve Earth.
Their Moon-made counterparts would require around five times less velocity change to enter geostationary orbit than solar power satellites launched from Earth.
In addition to providing enough clean energy for Earth, this would also result in the development of a cislunar transportation system, mining, processing, and manufacturing facilities on the Moon and in orbit, establishing a two-planet economy, and the emergence of a spacefaring civilization, according to Vijendran.
The majority of the technologies required to enable GE-LPS (lunar surface mining, beneficiation, and fabrication) are fortunately currently in use or are being developed on Earth, according to Astrostrom’s report. This indicates that they may be modified for the lunar environment, sent to the Moon in modular form, and controlled remotely.
The startup’s financial analysis also makes a strong case. It was discovered that solar power satellites created on the Moon would not only be less expensive than their Earthly equivalents, but the electricity they would produce would also be more affordable than other forms of terrestrial power.