Safety and Environmental

Is it safe for life on earth?

Yes, the max beam intensity is < 250 W/m 2 , less than ¼ of the max sun intensity at the equator.

Can it be used as a death ray?

​No, by design the system cannot be used as or converted into a weapon.

Would it be hazardous to aircraft or spacecraft?

Unlikely, but there are mitigations if it is proven to be a problem.

Will it heat up the world?

No, heating is inconsequential and less than fossil fuel or terrestrial solar.

Will the beam heat the atmosphere?

No, negligible absorption / heating in heavy rain, zero absorption in dry weather.

Could atmospheric scintillation cause a problem?

Possibly, but adaptive optics is the solution established technology for astronomical telescopes.

Will the massive satellites cause light pollution?

At GEO (38,000 km slant range) they will be invisible.

What about RF pollution and side lobes?

Managing EMI issues is a key consideration for the design.

Isn’t the RF spectrum fully occupied?

Space Based Solar Power would need international negotiation with the ITU to allocate a band in the 1 – 10GHz range.


Why hasn’t this been done before?

Historically it has been unaffordable because of high space launch costs. A range of factors now make it a viable concept.

Why bother when terrestrial solar and wind is cheap?

SBSP provides base load 24/7/365 which is essential for grid stability with intermittent renewables.

Don’t the conversion efficiencies mean that it’s impractical?

No, the efficiency from generated DC on the SPS to grid is nearly 60%. Utilisation is nearly 100%.

Does it depend on SpaceX launch?

It is true that it depends on a vibrant reusable launch market, but SBSP will itself energise that market.

Resilience and Security

Isn’t it vulnerable to attack by a hostile actor?

The pilot beam is encrypted – the SPS is sparse and highly modular, so difficult to degrade.

What about damage from space debris?

Assembly at MEO to avoid LEO debris risk. SPS is sparse and highly modular, so difficult to degrade.

What about the Van Allen belt radiation?

Orbits and trajectories need careful design to minimise time in VA belts. Concepts address this risk.

SBSP Graphic

Space Based Solar Power: FAQs

For further details on Space-Based Solar Power, please read our latest FAQ document:

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