Energy From Space

by Ann E. Seltz-Petrash, Production Editor; CIVIL ENGINEERING—ASCE, New York, N.Y.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1979, Vol. 49, Issue 7, Pg. 53-57

Document Type: Feature article


Patented by Peter Glaser in 1973 the solar power satellite is a concept still mindboggling to some. It is a satellite orbiting 22,300 miles (35,800 km) above earth in geosynchronous orbit. Sunlight is gathered in photovoltaic arrays, converted to microwave and beamed to an earth antenna (rectenna). Microwave beam is then reconverted to electricity and fed into conventional power grids. Why aren't we building satellites now: cost and environmental concerns. After a front-end investment of $74 billion, each 5 gigawatt satellite and rectenna would cost $12 billion. Also of concern is the effect of microwaves on the environment and the effect of a space program this large on the atmosphere. Underway is the largest technology/environmental assessment ever by the Department of Energy and NASA.

Subject Headings: Satellites | Solar power | Microwaves | Orbits | Electric power | Environmental issues | Light (natural) | Antennas

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