Credit: Kirtland Public Affairs

 

Space-based experiments to investigate space solar power beaming are in the offing given a partnership between the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Northrop Grumman.

AFRL is developing space-based solar power transmission capability using high-efficiency solar cells to collect the Sun’s energy, convert it to radio frequency, and beam it to Earth.

Hardware elements

Dubbed the Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations and Research (SSPIDR) Project, AFRL has awarded Northrop Grumman a contract valued at more than $100 million. The aerospace firm is to develop and deliver the critical hardware elements to support space-based experiments into this leading-edge technology.

SSPIDR is part of AFRL’s “big idea pipeline” to ensure development of game-changing technologies.

Strategic enabler

“Energy is a strategic enabler and potential vulnerability for our nation and our Department of Defense” said U.S. Air Force Col. Eric Felt, director of AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate. “To ensure DoD mission success we must have the energy we need at the right place at the right time,” he stated in an AFRL statement.

“Providing uninterrupted, assured, and agile power to expeditionary forces operating in unimproved areas such as forward operating bases would provide an advantage to US and allied forces,” adds the AFRL Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico press release.

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