The 12-inch square tile module will test whether power can be harvested from its solar panel and transform the energy to a radio frequency microwave. The experiment has been in the works for more than a decade.
The module converts sunlight for microwave power transmission. Depuma said engineers decided to not use optical power transmission because a lot of energy would be lost through clouds and atmosphere.
The Naval Research Laboratory said the results of the experiment could drive the design of a dedicated spacecraft to test the transmission of energy back to Earth. The Pentagon is interested in this technology to provide energy to remote installations like forward operating bases and disaster response areas.
Researchers believe that a space solar system traveling above the atmosphere would catch far more energy than it would be possible on the ground due to the abundant and unimpeded sunlight in space.
One of the concerns is the thermal performance of the hardware. “It’s kind of a tricky problem to have something that’s in direct sunlight all the time and maintain the temperature of the electronics,” said Jaffe.
Solar power satellites could provide energy anywhere in the world, he said. “So a really important component of these kind of satellites would be a device that can convert the sunlight into microwaves or some other form of electromagnetic energy that’s suitable for sending to Earth. Now is the time to test it in space and see how it performs.”
Development of SpaceX’s BFR is progressing much quicker than most people gave the company credit for. The delivery of the vehicle to active commercial service will greatly reduce the cost of lifting major payloads to space.Click HERE to subscribe to Fuller Treacy Money Back to top