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The Space Power Grid architecture jump-starts the move towards Space Solar Power (SSP) by setting up a power exchange between terrestrial power plants and customers through Space. A constellation of low-mass, low-risk waveguide satellites starts the first phase. With technical and policy issues settled and the market risk reduced, expansion to full SSP is done using high-altitude ultralight sunlight reflector satellites and 1 GWe converter satellites in mid to low orbits. The baseline architecture published at the 2011 IEEE Aerospace Conference showed the parameter values needed to break even at modest selling price of power and return on investment, inside 50 years from project start, at a total installed level of over 3.4 Terawatts. This architecture is updated with several large improvements and reductions in uncertainty. The waveguide satellites of Phase 1 are now refined using a conceptual design process, and shown to come in under the projected mass. An Intensified Efficient Conversion Architecture (InCA) is used to develop 1 GWe satellites using primary Brayton cycle conversion instead of photovoltaics, delivering very high efficiency and specific power. Several optional paths are explored to reduce power cost and accelerate SSP deployment well beyond 4 Terawatts.
Aerospace Conference, 2012 IEEE
Date of Conference: 3-10 March 2012