Scotty, beam me down some electricity

Sharon Weinberger at the Danger Room writes about Pentagon Dreamer’s Sun-Beaming Sats, satellites which would collect solar energy and beam it down to earth.

I wrote about this some time back (see: Just don’t get in between the transmitter and the receiver) and have been intrigued by this idea since I was a kid:

I see it as analogous to satellite television compared to cable television. Never mind that the cable companies get their signal from satellites. They distribute their signal over “grids” of wires that must be laid and maintained and upgraded. The signal reaches your house, then your internal network of wires distributes it to all of your televisions wherever you’ve got them. Satellite television, on the other hand, beams the signal to your house without the need of any cables or switches or other hardware.

You receive the signal on your dish, then distribute it throughout the house the same way as the old-world cable subscriber. DirecTV wants to add more local channels? Well, launch another satellite. Expensive? Yes, but once the bird is in place, the entire subscriber base has access to the new signals. And if terrorists destroy my neighbor’s dish I can still catch NFL Sunday Ticket in my living room. Your satellite dish is like the microwave receiver on earth, and your house (and its independent network of wires) is like New York City, only not so messy.


  1. This idea may sound crazy like most space based ideas but it is alot more realistic than tyring to go to a all hydrogen or other such 500mile to the gallon dream cars. There really would be no limit to the size of the solar farm possible in space, solar cells positioned right can run 24/7 and at a multiple more effectivley than those down on earth impeided by the atmosphere. The beaming part sounds but there is a hell of alot of wide open useless spaces and ocean were such a reciever could be placed. Not to mention the spin off technologies and new infastructure both earth bound and stellar that would come with mass production of heavy lifters to haul the materials up. Future possibilities of pulling near earth objects closer & placing into orbit for mining aka hollowing out to be used as themselves the foundations of massive stellar bases,, and on and on. DID I MENTION UNLIMITED GROWTH POTENTIAL. The future is not looking back at the past with all this who’s fualt is global warming crap, the future is looking forward and doing what will push US forward and out. Reality is ‘it was alot hotter in the Dinosours day and a hell of alot colder in the Mamouths day’, we had nothing to do with either. So match that with the million or so other ‘end of the world #X senerio’ on the discovery channel and space is the future and the only direction if leadership really cares about protecting the US &/or human race.

  2. Most of the SPS proposals I can recall assume really large rectennas. The downside is you need a whole lotta room. An upside is that you can still use the land underneath for crops or critters; it just would not be an optimal place to live. It never occurred to me that the military could use SPS. One problem with using more powerful means to deliver energy is that people don’t like the idea of ‘death beams’ pouring energy out of the sky at them. One of my favorite mean is this: pour water into a tank. The top is opaque. Every 90 minutes a satellite cruises overhead and dumps a few megawatts of energy into your tank, boiling the water. The bits on the ground are simple, the complex bits are time-shared and far away – perfect for an expeditionary environment. Perfect also for many places like Iraq. Pity that people are going to be gun-shy about the whole ‘death beams from the sky’ idea.

  3. Anything that gets humans into space is a good thing. Space is our salvation. So many resources to be had just waiting for us to come get them. Now as for the USA getting them… well people are gonna die in space… and the USA just can’t seem to stomach that. That’s ok. Some other nation a bit more willing to face reality and accept the costs can reap the profits. I still hold out hope for America though. Even if my great grandson does have to serve on the USS Politically Correct instead of the USS Enterprise or USS Constitution.