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NSSO on Space Based Solar Power

ajpr This is a REALLY bad idea (198 comments)

The basic physics appears to make sense, as obviously theres more power available from solar energy in orbit. The problem is unfortunately the lifetime of any satellite.

Lubrication (KY Jelly jokes aside!) is essential for any moving part. Without it parts often wear out quickly. This problem is why satellites have a life span. They need to continually fix the orbit and the rotation of the satellite. To achieve this, gyroscopes and fuel burns are required. Once the gyroscopes have eroded away (lubrication has been used up), the satellite will be uncontrollable with respect to its rotation.

The secondary problem is the issue of keeping the satellite in a particular orbit. Fuel is used often to make minor (but essential) corrections to the orbital trajectory. Towards the end of a satellite's lifespan, it's remaining fuel is used to push it into the graveyard beyond geosynchronous orbit.

So this leaves us with a final issue: What happens when the satellite has run out of fuel/lubrication? We dump it into the graveyard orbit like we do with all the others?

Perhaps sophisticated "MagLev" type gyroscopes could remove the lubrication problem. But then we are stuck with the problem of fuel. Solar energy could be used (for a type of photon engine), but how feasible that is I don't know.

more than 6 years ago

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