Skip to comments.3D Printing Could Turn Space-Based Solar Power into a Reality
Posted on 12/03/2013 2:54:13 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
Space-based solar power (SBSP) offers many advantages over Earth-based solar, yet the main obstacle in its development is the cost of sending up the solar panels into orbit. 3D printing may well be able to slash these installation costs and therefore make SBSP a much more viable energy source.
3D printing has been developed at a fast pace in recent years as scientists find more ways to use the technology. It is thought that by sending up special 3D printers into space to manufacturer the solar panels in orbit, the installation costs can be drastically reduced, compared to sending up pre-made solar panels.
Rob Hoyt, the CEO and Chief Scientists at Tethers Unlimited Inc. (TUI), explained to GreenTechSolar that the overall vision is to create a satellite chrysalis with compact, durable software DNA assembly instructions, and the ability to fabricate space system components in-orbit instead of building them on the ground.
TUIs product, the SpiderFab 3D robotic printer, has already been awarded to sets of funding from NASA via its Innovative Advanced Concepts program. The initial $100,000 allowed them to prove the technical feasibility and value of the technology to such a degree that they were awarded another $500,000 to continue developing the idea....
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That would require one big ass extension cord.
And this solar panel would be sent back to Earth as...microwaves. Anything flying between the solar panel and the receiver would be killed or severely damaged. Also, you could use it as a death ray. Just focus it on a city and turn it on.
Can’t we just burn coal? It’s clean. Honest. The scrubber stacks cost as much as the generating plant.
In science fiction, you see this idea kicked around a lot. You use something hip and cool like nanobots (or in today’s world of reduced expectations—the 3d printer) to manufacture stuff in space so you don’t have to lift it up from the planet.
But, they always find ways to obtain the raw materials in space.
This plan seems to involve lifting all the same mass as a finished panel PLUS the manufacturing equipment.
For the new Pro-Islam NASA: physics is hard.
“Earl Grey, hot.”
Send up the medium in containers along with a printer, and you can make whatever you need on station.
[ And this solar panel would be sent back to Earth as...microwaves. Anything flying between the solar panel and the receiver would be killed or severely damaged. Also, you could use it as a death ray. Just focus it on a city and turn it on.
Cant we just burn coal? Its clean. Honest. The scrubber stacks cost as much as the generating plant. ]
They have calculated the level of power sent and you could have a beam that is 100m in diameter with a 100m dish and send a bean of attenuated microwaves to a receiver to power a city and birds could fly through it with only feeling a slight warming feeling like someone in the noonday sun..
“and birds could fly through it with only feeling a slight warming feeling like someone in the noonday sun..”
It’s almost impossible to sell a home anywhere near power lines because people are afraid of EM radiation. There are still lawsuits over cell phone radiation. Trust me, there is no safe level of microwave radiation. Anything they declare safe now will either be proven otherwise or, like the power lines, will become so widely believed as dangerous that the investment will be neutralized by the bad publicity.
“Its almost impossible to sell a home anywhere near power lines because people are afraid of EM radiation.”
Who spreads this bullshit?
This looks safer:
Low-cost system uses passing vehicles to generate electricity
“Who spreads this bullshit?”
Look for somebody wearing Birkenstocks, wearing a ponytail and natural weave fabric. They drive Volvos or Subaru’s and eat tofu.
I looked at a nice home near power lines and the realtor told me that it had been on the market forever and the price kept dropping because nobody would buy under power lines. The reality of something does not matter as much as the perception. Even though I don’t believe the power lines would be dangerous it was dangerous to buy something that I would have a problem selling.
The raw materials may be the same weight but available space is also a consideration. Also remember it is possible to construct structures in space that would instantly fall apart here on Earth. The solar panels can be printed thinner than paper but still maintain shape due to zero-G. Sections damaged by space debris can be scrapped, salvaged and reprinted robotically so little new material is needed.
Another possibility is bringing an asteroid of the correct composition into orbit to be robotically mined. This would reduce or eliminate raw materials needed to be launched.
I looked at a nice home near power lines and the realtor told me that it had been on the market forever and the price kept dropping because nobody would buy under power lines. The reality of something does not matter as much as the perception. Even though I dont believe the power lines would be dangerous it was dangerous to buy something that I would have a problem selling.
I am looking at a house now that is over the limit for radon gas. A radon system has been install and it passed the test now but it will ALWAY be a house with a radon problem.
“The same is true for any house built before 1978. It MIGHT have lead in it, the forms say so when I buy it.”
Yep. Unless you can get it so cheaply that you can afford to walk away when you’re done, why take a chance? It’s a buyer’s market and you can get sweet deals on much better properties.
You are correct that 3D printing is a great solution for building repair parts. That’s the real power of 3d printing.
If you built the panels as flimsy as paper in space, you’d still need to assemble them and erect them with fat space-suited fingers. Keep the printer warmed up!
I was thinking more along the line of robots creating solar “sheets” many many miles long and stitching them together automatically. Think of a printer that uses a roll.
If the sheets are damaged the robots would crawl or use electric propulsion to get to the damaged area. Then scavenge the remaining material and repair the sheet. The robots may even repair each other. All 100% powered by the sun with eventually zero human intervention.
We could build a solar panel Dyson Sphere, which would capture and send all the power we would ever need! No more greenhouse gases reflecting light (losing energy)!
(Note: please remember to keep your robot overlords happy.)