SPS (Solar Power Satellite) Program of the 70's/80's

ozmosis

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_satellite

This is a thread for any information or images in regards to the large scale plan developed from the 70's through 80's in regards to the STS (Space Transportation System) being used to build the massive space stations in orbit attached to the mile-sized solar power cell collectors for beaming back towards Earth.
 

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ozmosis

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Images from http://ssi.org/space-art/ssi-sample-slides/
 

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sferrin

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SP-413

http://www.nas.nasa.gov/Services/Education/SpaceSettlement/75SummerStudy/s.s.doc.html
 

Michel Van

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there were two proposals for SPS
A pure photovoltaic system (PS) and alternative Concentrated solar power (CSP)

Harry O Ruppe made expert report about SPS for German government in 1970s:

CSP
size mirror: 7x7 km
size radiator: 1,8 x 1,8 Km
(Rankine cycle: Helium Hot +1130°C, Cold 440°C)
weight: 150000 metric tons

PS
Size 10,5 x 10,5 km (with mirrors)
weight: 180000 metric tons

both need 200 meter/second a year to keep there position
provied by Ion engines with performance 100 km/s
inclusive fuel and repair hardware need
PS: 1500 metric tons/year
CPS: 1100 metric tons/year
the energy is transmit by microwave in 10 cm wavelength (but is depending on weather conditions!)
receiver size on Earth a ellipse of 11 km ø to 35 kmø (do to disagreement of expert on matter)
out put on ground 1o million kW(e) or 86,25 Billion kWh(e)/year

source:
Harry o Ruppe.
Grenzenlose Dimension der Raumfahrt, Band 1
page 470 to 485
 

ozmosis

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Let us take the technology and costs from the 1970's. Would it have, in the long run, been more cost saving and efficient to do the SPS program or to build more nuclear power plants?
 

Michel Van

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ozmosis said:
Let us take the technology and costs from the 1970's. Would it have, in the long run, been more cost saving and efficient to do the SPS program or to build more nuclear power plants?

Ruppe analyze the cost with a 20 year program
1978-1980 study the design and how to build
1980-1995 use Space shuttle Spacelab for R&D and design new heavy booster
1990 start of Program
1997 begin assembly the Protoype
2000 prototype in GEO operational
2003 first series model in GEO operational
2033 first unit decommissioned, replaced by unit nr°11

as Booster a 2 stage full reusable (100 reuse) with 200 metric tons payload
with 5000 ton liftoff mass, bigger as Saturn V
in 700 km high orbit, so the aerodynamic drag not drop modules out of orbit
there the parts are assembled into Module of 10000 tons each, from Space station with 100 men
a space tug 500 tons with Ion Engine (10 reuse) brings the modules in 50 day to GEO
the module are assembled into SPS by crew of 25 men from GEO space station
construction time 3 years
each day one launch of Booster with 200 tons
20 flights/year with Space shuttle with 25 men
5 flight/year space tug 500 tons with Ion Engine Assembly Space station to GEO
20 flight chemical tug to GEO Space station - Assembly Space station

Cost
Prototype 130 billion US dollar in 1978
first series model 70 billion US dollar in 1978
note that high cost for prototype, include the R&D, infrastructure, build and installation
 

ozmosis

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Now we just need to know:

A. What % of the USA would the SPS power and then

B. Whatever that percentage is, how many nuclear plants would be required to equal that and what would their cost be
 

Michel Van

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ozmosis said:
Now we just need to know:

A. What % of the USA would the SPS power and then

B. Whatever that percentage is, how many nuclear plants would be required to equal that and what would their cost be

to B:
the finland reactor Olkiluoto block 4 (European Pressurized Reactor)
It will cost 7,88 billion US Dollar in 2010 with have a output around 1,8 million kW(e)
But we have to see the Cost of 1978 expert report in value of 2010 US Dollar
that 325 Billion US dollar in 2010 for: Infrastructure, Boosters, Space stations, Tugs and first Prototype in GEO
with that money, you can build 41 European Pressurized Reactor with total output of
73,8 Million kW(e) vrs the 10 Million kW(e) of SPS prototype...
 

ozmosis

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Michel Van said:
ozmosis said:
Now we just need to know:

A. What % of the USA would the SPS power and then

B. Whatever that percentage is, how many nuclear plants would be required to equal that and what would their cost be

to B:
the finland reactor Olkiluoto block 4 (European Pressurized Reactor)
It will cost 7,88 billion US Dollar in 2010 with have a output around 1,8 million kW(e)
But we have to see the Cost of 1978 expert report in value of 2010 US Dollar
that 325 Billion US dollar in 2010 for: Infrastructure, Boosters, Space stations, Tugs and first Prototype in GEO
with that money, you can build 41 European Pressurized Reactor with total output of
73,8 Million kW(e) vrs the 10 Million kW(e) of SPS prototype...

So then does that mean Nuclear power is a much better option than SPS, or am I missing something here?
 

cluttonfred

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I have often wondered about the environmental impact of beaming large amounts of power back to earth via microwave or laser, especially at a scale to offset use of any other major energy source. A recipe for global warming, or statistically insignificant compared to the energy received from the sun every day? Does anyone know of any references that address that issue in the context of these solar energy project plans?

Edit: This inspired me to do some digging and there is actually an excellent article on space-based solar power on Wikipedia including some specific numbers on safety concerns: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-based_solar_power#Safety The article includes many interesting footnotes including this NASA study: http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19800022396_1980022396.pdf
 

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So many Aerospace books from decades ago were full of illustrations of these SPS concepts but I can barely find any illustrations on the internet, if anyone has any to contribute to this thread I would be very thankful.
 

sferrin

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ozmosis said:
So many Aerospace books from decades ago were full of illustrations of these SPS concepts but I can barely find any illustrations on the internet, if anyone has any to contribute to this thread I would be very thankful.

Did you go to the link I posted? (And explore the links there.)
 

ozmosis

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sferrin said:
ozmosis said:
So many Aerospace books from decades ago were full of illustrations of these SPS concepts but I can barely find any illustrations on the internet, if anyone has any to contribute to this thread I would be very thankful.

Did you go to the link I posted? (And explore the links there.)

The best I could find was this page with Colony art http://settlement.arc.nasa.gov/70sArt/art.html Which while impressive, only shows colony designs and not the SPS themselves
 

GeorgeA

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The original Boeing/Grumman/Arthur D Little study for JSC proposed a constellation of 112 10GW satellites, each weighing 200 to 300 million pounds, with an orbital burden factor of 2.0-3.7, requiring between 1875 and 3125 heavy-lift launches a year, depending on whether the assembly took place in LEO or GEO. Up to seven satellites could be assembled per year. This would have provided base load capacity equal to 75% of US installed capacity in 1975.

Launch sites would have been offshore at KSC, a launch site in northern New Mexico with booster recovery downrange in Texas, or an offshore site in the Galapagos Islands with a 3-mile long runway and a 10,000-person at-sea support operation. The sites would have supported 60 HLLV launches a week on three 5-day shifts.

R&D and pre-production costs, plus the cost to assemble the first satellite, would have been $117 billion in 1979 dollars.

NTRS has tens of reports with literally thousands of pages about the 1974-1980 program.
 

starviking

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Mole said:
I have often wondered about the environmental impact of beaming large amounts of power back to earth via microwave or laser, especially at a scale to offset use of any other major energy source. A recipe for global warming, or statistically insignificant compared to the energy received from the sun every day? Does anyone know of any references that address that issue in the context of these solar energy project plans?

A gut feeling is that there'd be an insignificant amount of increase in the Earth's energy received from the sun - the SPS stations are on the order of tens of kilometres squared - the surface area of the earth is about 500 million square kilometres. Even with the fact that you're only dealing with the dayside of the Earth with regard to solar heating - you're talking about adding energy to the Earth (if the SPS were 100% efficient) on the order of ten millionths. Also, The coal, oil and gas plants this energy source would displace would remove a lot of man made CO2 from the global warming equation.

Even saying all that - the methods chosen to beam power back from the SPS stations would tend to maximize the energy received on the ground - so atmospheric absorption could be assumed to be minimal.
 

blackstar

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Part of the environmental impact includes the large number of rockets that are necessary to place the required mass in orbit. It was this reason, plus cost, that led people to propose setting up mining sites on the moon and manufacturing (not simply construction) sites in orbit. The idea was to have a relatively few launches from Earth, and then all the manufacturing in space.

Of course, this involves a lot of hand waving. We don't know how to do any of that manufacturing in space. How do you smelt aluminum in zero g? How do you produce gallium arsenide solar cells? How do you do these things without massive amounts of water for cooling? All that stuff would have to be reinvented. Plus, we know from the Apollo missions that the Moon is a very abrasive environment and mining machinery would probably grind itself to pieces very quickly.

It's just a lot of difficulty.
 

Michel Van

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ozmosis said:
Michel Van said:
ozmosis said:
Now we just need to know:

A. What % of the USA would the SPS power and then

B. Whatever that percentage is, how many nuclear plants would be required to equal that and what would their cost be

to B:
the finland reactor Olkiluoto block 4 (European Pressurized Reactor)
It will cost 7,88 billion US Dollar in 2010 with have a output around 1,8 million kW(e)
But we have to see the Cost of 1978 expert report in value of 2010 US Dollar
that 325 Billion US dollar in 2010 for: Infrastructure, Boosters, Space stations, Tugs and first Prototype in GEO
with that money, you can build 41 European Pressurized Reactor with total output of
73,8 Million kW(e) vrs the 10 Million kW(e) of SPS prototype...

So then does that mean Nuclear power is a much better option than SPS, or am I missing something here?
yes and no
it easyer and cheaper to build nuclear reactors as SPS in space
but there one big prisetag on Nuclear power: disposal of Nuclearwaste is expensive

that's get this stuff out the hardware, put into barrel, transport and storage for tausend of Years
data cost from German:
Demontage of nuclear reactor over 30 years: 1,6 billion Euros 2,318 Billions US Dollars in 2010
Dry cask storage transport inclusive police protection: 3 billion euros 4,345 Billion US dollars
a deep geological repository for radioactive waste: 6 billion euros 8,691 Billion US Dollars in 2010
makes in total 10,6 Billions Euros or 15,354 Billions US Dollars
with 41 European Pressurized Reactor build for 325 Billions Euros
we need 434,6 Billions Euros for the clean up
Total cost: 759,6 Billions euros or 1100 Billion US Dollar
 

ozmosis

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Michel Van said:
ozmosis said:
Michel Van said:
ozmosis said:
Now we just need to know:

A. What % of the USA would the SPS power and then

B. Whatever that percentage is, how many nuclear plants would be required to equal that and what would their cost be

to B:
the finland reactor Olkiluoto block 4 (European Pressurized Reactor)
It will cost 7,88 billion US Dollar in 2010 with have a output around 1,8 million kW(e)
But we have to see the Cost of 1978 expert report in value of 2010 US Dollar
that 325 Billion US dollar in 2010 for: Infrastructure, Boosters, Space stations, Tugs and first Prototype in GEO
with that money, you can build 41 European Pressurized Reactor with total output of
73,8 Million kW(e) vrs the 10 Million kW(e) of SPS prototype...

So then does that mean Nuclear power is a much better option than SPS, or am I missing something here?
yes and no
it easyer and cheaper to build nuclear reactors as SPS in space
but there one big prisetag on Nuclear power: disposal of Nuclearwaste is expensive

that's get this stuff out the hardware, put into barrel, transport and storage for tausend of Years
data cost from German:
Demontage of nuclear reactor over 30 years: 1,6 billion Euros 2,318 Billions US Dollars in 2010
Dry cask storage transport inclusive police protection: 3 billion euros 4,345 Billion US dollars
a deep geological repository for radioactive waste: 6 billion euros 8,691 Billion US Dollars in 2010
makes in total 10,6 Billions Euros or 15,354 Billions US Dollars
with 41 European Pressurized Reactor build for 325 Billions Euros
we need 434,6 Billions Euros for the clean up
Total cost: 759,6 Billions euros or 1100 Billion US Dollar

This may sound like solutions from a cartoon, but seriously, what about either:

A. Dumping the radioactive material into an active volcano or lava stream (Would the immense heat melt and mix with the waste?)

B. Dropping it into a deep ocean trench (Would the intense pressure keep the radioactive material contained?)
 

blackstar

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ozmosis said:
A. Dumping the radioactive material into an active volcano or lava stream (Would the immense heat melt and mix with the waste?)

I suspect that the problem here is that the material will burn and turn into radioactive gas. The goal is to contain the radioactivity.
 

Grey Havoc

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Reprocessing the waste would be a better solution, but has been sidelined for far too long for primarily political reasons.
 

Michel Van

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blackstar said:
ozmosis said:
A. Dumping the radioactive material into an active volcano or lava stream (Would the immense heat melt and mix with the waste?)

I suspect that the problem here is that the material will burn and turn into radioactive gas. The goal is to contain the radioactivity.

Active Vulcan's has tendency to throw up, particularly that Wat you thrown in...

also Dropping nuclear waste into a deep ocean trench, (was been popular in Great Britian)
has tendency to come back, because disaggregation of container on sea floor
and deep ocean currents dispense the Nuclear wast all over the coastlines...

but also a SPS can make problems
one is that the microwave energy is transmit on Citys by Error or Military or terrorist action
the other: a SPS can fall from the sky !
in short Form:
it's a interplay of Earth, Moon and Sun force of gravity and Push by Sun "Solarwind" and Light
a satellite has little problem, with ISS more and a SPS massive problems to keep its position in space
if not correct this with 200 meter/seconds speed/year, SPS start to drift away from its position
and jump into chaotic orbit around Earth, with 150000 metric tons to crash down somewere!
Lucky this takes for decades until that happens.
 

Brickmuppet

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Michel Van said:
also Dropping nuclear waste into a deep ocean trench, (was been popular in Great Britian)
has tendency to come back, because disaggregation of container on sea floor
and deep ocean currents dispense the Nuclear wast all over the coastlines...

No.
If its released in tiny particles that can be ingested by animals it will stay in the food chain, however sea dumping would involve mixing it in blocks of glass or concrete. Also radioactives are very very heavy. Water is a good neutron inhibitor. Even if the very robust containers containers corroded there would be a bunch of mildly radioactive blocks on the seafloor that can't get into the food chain. I suppose if a crab sat on the blocks it might get sick, but it wouldn't become radioactive and spread it through the food chain.

The Marianas and Japan Trenches are probably the best places for the stuff that can't be further reprocessed.
 

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RE: SPS

Given that an SPS has to orbit in geostationary orbit (ie. over the equator) Does anybody know how far outside the tropics the rectennas could be realistically placed?

In the USA, year round solar power is seriously impractical (well MORE impractical) north of the Mason-Dixon line (39°43′ N ) I imagine the rectenna sizes would get really big and elongated the farther north one got and there would be a point around the arctic circle that they simply wouldn't work.
 

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Brickmuppet said:
RE: SPS

Given that an SPS has to orbit in geostationary orbit (ie. over the equator) Does anybody know how far outside the tropics the rectennas could be realistically placed?

In the USA, year round solar power is seriously impractical (well MORE impractical) north of the Mason-Dixon line (39°43′ N ) I imagine the rectenna sizes would get really big and elongated the farther north one got and there would be a point around the arctic circle that they simply wouldn't work.

Or you do like they were planning on doing with SDI and use relay reflectors.
 

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Brickmuppet said:
If its released in tiny particles that can be ingested by animals it will stay in the food chain, however sea dumping would involve mixing it in blocks of glass or concrete. Also radioactives are very very heavy. Water is a good neutron inhibitor. Even if the very robust containers containers corroded there would be a bunch of mildly radioactive blocks on the seafloor that can't get into the food chain. I suppose if a crab sat on the blocks it might get sick, but it wouldn't become radioactive and spread it through the food chain.

The Marianas and Japan Trenches are probably the best places for the stuff that can't be further reprocessed.
One serious proposal I've seen from the '70s was to dispose of high-level nuclear waste in the Atlantic abyssal plain south-east of Norfolk at depths of about 5 kilometres - but encapsulating the nuclear material in penetrators so that they'd bury themselves deep into the seabed.
 

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Popular Mechanics - June 1977 - Energy From Outer Space
 

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Popular Mechanics - June 1978 - Our Next Steps In Space: Zero-G Factories And Asteroid Mines
 

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Popular Science - September 1975 - Coming: Energy From Space For Use On Earth
 

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Popular Science - March 1979 - Giant Space Structures: How We'll Build Them
 

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blackstar

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Those are nice. Thanks. It's a reminder of how ambitious some people were before the shuttle started flying. They thought it would do everything.
 

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Thanks for the info so far.

I remember reading in a book I've since lost (a large coffee table book about space exploration, probably printed in the mid- late 80s, a short passage about the "modular beam builder" being developed by NASA. It was basically a robot that would assemble a latticework truss (similar to the Integrated Truss Structure on the ISS), for use on the SPS. Does anyone have any more info on it?

All the best.

TTR.
 

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I have a few items on Beam Builder proposals on my hard drive, but with the NTRS down, the best I can do at the moment is these pictures as the documents are quite large.





 

blackstar

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So what happened to that thing? I know that somebody built a breadboard model. But the fact that it was never selected for any actual space missions indicates that it was either flawed or not practical.
 

Thetimesreader84

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RanulfC - yes, that looks similar, although the image was of a longer construction unit, similar to the first picture Graham1973 provided. The photo was of it on some sort of test stand (it actually looked like it was in a wind tunnel - atmospheric chamber?). Wish I could find the book, but I suspect it's been sent to a car boot sale. I'll have a rummage in the loft.

Thanks again.

TTR
 

cluttonfred

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I believe I may have the book in question, either COLONIES IN SPACE or TOWARD DISTANT SUNS by T.A. Heppenheimer, both available free on online at the National Space Society web site but, alas, without most of the illustrations.

http://www.nss.org/settlement/DistantSuns/index.html

http://www.nss.org/settlement/ColoniesInSpace/index.html
 

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blackstar said:
So what happened to that thing? I know that somebody built a breadboard model. But the fact that it was never selected for any actual space missions indicates that it was either flawed or not practical.

Worse actually... No "mission" for it. We were not actually "planning" (NASA wasn't get funding or authorization) for any "large-scale" space projects, hence no mission that needed long trusses.

By the time the Space Station program got serious they'd decided on truss segments for various reasons.

Randy
 

blackstar

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RanulfC said:
Worse actually... No "mission" for it. We were not actually "planning" (NASA wasn't get funding or authorization) for any "large-scale" space projects, hence no mission that needed long trusses.

By the time the Space Station program got serious they'd decided on truss segments for various reasons.

I can believe that. And it's not a bad reason for canceling technology development. Money is finite, and it is very important to spend R&D money primarily (although not only) on things that you expect you will use within the next decade or less. I just wonder if there was ever a tradeoff study performed at this time. For example, at what length would this approach make sense?

My 3D printing study, now funded and starting soon, is going to look at things like this. Where can new technologies for in-space manufacturing make a big impact on mass to LEO? It is a multi-dimensional problem.
 

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sferrin said:
I swear I've seen an animation of that thing in action years ago. It would roll the channels and crossmembers, cut them, and spot weld them. Truss would come out like a toothpaste dispenser.


yes, there were several animation in begin 1980s who show that thing in action...
 
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