Solar Satellites

Japan plans to launch giant solar satellites by 2040. The satellites are planned for a geostationary orbit at 22,000 mi above the Earth's surface. They would generate about the same amount of power as a nuclear power plant (1 gW). The collected solar energy would be beamed back to Earth by microwaves onto several-kilometer-diameter antennas. Figure 1.40 shows the gigantic power-generating wing panels of the satellite. The weight of the structure is estimated at about 20,000 tons, and the cost is estimated at $17 billion. (The cost of a nuclear power plant is about $5 billion.)

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