Japan Has a Plan: Power Plant in Space

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JAXA, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, recently announced that it intends to stick a solar-generated power station in orbit for the first time by 2025—just over a decade.

For Vice.com, Meghan Neal writes: Japan, where the disastrous Fukushima meltdown heightened the search for safe, sustainable alternative energy, is answering that need by sending a power plant into space.

“Solar panels in space are up to 10 times more efficient than the ones we’ve got on Earth, so the potential is beyond intriguing.”

Actually, the plan to power the globe with gigantic space-based solar panels has been kicking around since the ’60s. But thanks to a perfect storm of technological advances—strong but lightweight tether materials, swarming worker robots that can self-assemble, more efficient solar panels, and cheaper payload launches—this thing is actually looking feasible.

[Also see: It’s Always Sunny in Space]

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Image: Screenshot from JAXA/YouTube

Picture this: Floating 24,000 miles above the Earth’s surface is a mammoth power plant (power satellite may be more accurate) that stretches several miles long, weighs 10,000 metric tons, and is covered with solar panels basking in the sun and storing up its powerful energy. Read the rest of this entry »