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Page added on February 25, 2009

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Space Solar Power Crowd Bets on Obama

WASHINGTON – Advocates of using satellites to beam solar power from space to Earth hope U.S. President Barack Obama’s campaign promise to develop alternative energy sources will help resurrect NASA’s interest in the technology.


NASA has been without an official space solar power program since 2002, although a coalition of government and private industry volunteers has kept alive visions of demonstrating how the United States might one day draw energy from the sun and transmit it to Earth via microwave beams.


The volunteers were disappointed in December upon learning that NASA would not provide $55 million they had asked for to conduct a solar power beaming experiment they had devised for the International Space Station. The experiment’s designers are hoping it will get another look by the Obama administration.


The experiment entails placing a system that includes traveling wave tube amplifiers, which amplify radio frequency signals, outside the space station on the Japanese Experiment Module’s Exposed Facility. The amplifiers, donated by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, would be moved to another location on the space station to draw power from the station’s solar arrays and beam them to Earth in microwave form.


Space.com



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