SpaceX Starship could help startup beam solar power to Earth

SpaceX Starship could help startup beam solar power to Earth

/ 11:57 AM May 03, 2024

Do you remember playing with a magnifying glass as a kid?

You hold the tool at a specific angle over a dried leaf until it concentrates sunlight into a dot. 

The focused light applies more heat to the dried leaf, burning a hole through it.

Similarly, some scientists are testing satellites that could beam solar power from space.


READ: Japan to launch flying solar 5G stations in 2025

Michigan-based startup Virtus Solis believes this technology could be the key to unlimited solar energy, and SpaceX’s Starship will help realize it.

How the SpaceX Starship could help with solar power reported on this innovative project and shared a statement from Virtus Solis founder John Bucknell.

“For space-based solar power to work, you need to have a heavy-lift launch, you need to have wireless power transfer, and you need to have the economics,” he said at the International Conference on Energy from Space.


“Once you have low-cost access to space, that’s one less miracle that you need to have solved.”

SpaceX said it would cost as little as $10 per kilogram to launch satellites into space. The estimate might be overly optimistic, but Bucknell said a drop to $200 or lower is ideal. 


It would make space-based solar power more affordable than Earth-based nuclear, gas or coal-powered plants. 

Interesting Engineering says Virtus Solis plans to use the SpaceX Starship to launch a solar array in a Molniya orbit. 

The NASA Earth Observatory describes it as an elliptical path that lets a satellite orbit past the same spot every 24 hours. 

The solar array converts sunlight into microwaves and then relays them to a ground rectenna. 

“A rectenna is kind of this magic device. It’s like an antenna with another circuit added to it that can convert RF into something usable,” Virtus Solis CTO and co-founder Dr. Edward Tate told Interesting Engineering.

“In fact, the receivers that we’ve got can be twice as efficient or more than a typical solar plant on the ground,” he added. 

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Virtus Solis wants to launch a demonstration satellite by 2027 and then deploy a network of 16 arrays to cover the globe.

TOPICS: technology
TAGS: technology

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