The United States Air Force (USAF) is trying to make space solar a reality. The US Air Force aims to achieve certain goals to meet the energy needs of military personnel deployed in remote bases in the short term. However, it will eventually be available for civilian use. It wants to use solar panels to collect the sun’s energy in space, and then radiate it downward for use on the earth. Officials say that the successful development of this capability will be a major advantage for the US Air Force on the battlefield.
Currently, the U.S. military uses truck convoys and their escorts to transport fuel and other materials to power advancing military bases. These convoys are easily attacked by air and ground enemies. This new project, called the Space Solar Incremental Demonstration and Research Project (SSPIDR), will direct solar energy to the outpost, regardless of the day and time, latitude and climate of the area.
The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) shared a video on YouTube describing the initial concept and potential use of this capability. AFRL is committed to the discovery, development and integration of affordable combat technologies for air and space forces.
The narrator of the video said: “Ensuring the maintenance of reliable forces at the frontline operating base is one of the most dangerous parts of military ground operations.” He added, “Frigates and supply lines are the enemy’s main targets.”
Ground solar energy is limited by the area, the size of the required collector and the climate. However, if solar panels are deployed in orbit, they may enter the sun’s rays unrestricted, thereby providing an uninterrupted energy supply.
However, the problem is to transfer energy to the ground. It is impractical to lay cables from space to the ground. Therefore, AFRL expressed the desire to deploy satellites that collect sunlight in space to convert solar energy into radio frequency (RF) power, which is then transmitted to the earth, and the receiving antenna converts it into usable power.
AFRL describes the Space Solar Demonstration and Research Project (SSPIDR) as a series of integrated demonstration and technologically mature efforts.