The National Space Society (NSS) supports the recent UK government proposal for operational space solar power (SSP) by 2040. Prepared by the Frazer-Nash Consultancy, the report states that “Space-Based Solar Power is a renewable technology which provides continuous baseload power without intermittency and could be available at large scale. It therefore warrants further exploration as it could offer new options and contribute to the Net Zero pathways.”
Two power station designs were concluded to be technically and economically viable in the report—the hyper-modular SPS Alpha design by NSS Board member John Mankins and the SSP CASSIOPeiA design by Ian Cash of the UK.
While SSP has been deemed technically viable for decades, recent projected reductions in cost make it appear to be inevitable. Notably, the expense of launching items into space has dropped by a factor of 14 times since the space shuttle era and is expected to drop further when SpaceX’s Starship becomes operational. The cost of constructing space solar power satellites will also drop when the modules are built in volume. The new hyper-modular SSP designs take advantage of this, and the UK study calculates the projected cost using this approach to SSP to be competitive with other energy technologies.