Deliver Solar Power From Solar Panels In Space - NASA's "SPS-ALPHA" Project

NASA's engineers are planning to deliver solar energy on Earth via platforms located in the orbit. John Mankins is heading the project which is in development stages. The project is officially called SPS-ALPHA which stands for Solar Power Satellite Via Arbitrarily Large Phased Array. The idea is to setup an array of solar panels in the shape of a margarita glass to capture solar rays and then use microwave transmission panels to beam the solar energy to the Earth in the form of radio waves.


These radio waves will be received on the Earth by a large array of diodes knit together to create a mesh-like structure. This mesh of diodes can be situated anywhere - over large farms, any remote places and even at disaster sites where there are immediate power requirements.

In his interview with Vice, Mankins said that he's insisting on low-intensity microwave transmitters. This will mean that the receivers on the Earth will be large - approximately 6-8 kilometers in diameters and located 5-10 meters above the ground. There are technological challenges because converting solar energy into electricity involves larger temperatures. Mankin proposed development of solar cells that can operate at sufficiently larger temperatures and also improve the overall conversion energy.

Though the project looks interesting, it may take a longer time to realise given the astronomical costs involved. Mankin says that his team is geared up for the challenge and if all things go as planned, the SPS-ALPHA would be ready to for launch latest by 2025.

We're curious to know what our engineer fellows think about this project? Do you think this 'IS' the next big thing in the human's quest for solving the energy problems of the mankind?

PS: If you are curious to know the project in detail, please head over to the source PDF linked below.

Source: PDF (PDF)


  • Sarathkumar Chandrasekaran
    Sarathkumar Chandrasekaran
    Really a fascinating project and it has all the possibilities to become realitt.
    Correct me if i am wrong.It works like a magnifying glass and the satellite with solor panels collect the beam and focus on the receivers so that high level of power can be generated by using this intence light.
  • Nayan Goenka
    Nayan Goenka
    It is definitely an excellent venture. If this comes to reality it will solve most of the power problems the world is facing right now. But what about its feasibility and its efficiency? The path of its revolution, possible collisions with extra terrestial bodies. The transmission system feasibility. I also once thought why cant we take power directly from the space but when you think deeper such issues come into the light
  • narayana murthy
    narayana murthy
    i have been waiting for this statement. I know before they are doing it but keeping in mind about health issues it may go wrong. Finally they came with radio transimission exceeding wireless electricity nice idea
  • suriyakumar
    it is a nice project. it is one of the method of collecting solar energy named as "Advance space collection system" in earth only 12 hrs the sun is available so we obtain energy for 12hours only...but in space there is no sun set hence we can obtain power throughout the day...and the cost of fixing this system quite costly...and it requires more space som e10 to 20 km to fix the reciving dish which single dish is about 3km diameter..adding to microwaves are little harmful to human if they devloped in such a is more welcome...
  • Halil Alper ONAY
    Halil Alper ONAY
    I had come up with an utopic idea 2-3 years ago and this one looks like that. I had thougt that instead of constructing nuclear power plants over the world, lets carry them through the moon so that our satallite will be our energy source.

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