Obama Transition Team Seeks Public Comment on Space Solar Power

by on December 10, 2008 · 22 comments

The Space Frontier Foundation, the 20-year old free-market space advocacy organization I chair, released the following press release yesterday:

President-elect Obama’s transition team has published for public comment a white paper entitled Space Solar Power (SSP) – A Solution for Energy Independence & Climate Change. The paper was prepared and submitted by the Space Frontier Foundation and other citizen space advocates, and calls for the new Administration to make development of Space Solar Power a national priority.

The SSP white paper was among the first ten released by the Obama transition team. It is the first and only space-related white paper released by the transition team to date. With 145 comments thus far [now 209], it is already among the top five most-discussed of the 20-some white papers on Change.gov.

Foundation Chairman Berin Szoka called upon all Americans to join the discussion about Space Solar Power at Change.gov: “For over twenty years, the Space Frontier Foundation has championed Space Solar Power as a world-changing technology that could do more to improve life here on Earth than any space program or commercial space venture ever. We applaud the Obama transition team’s interest in developing Space Solar Power as a clean energy source that could significantly reduce U.S. dependence on strategically vulnerable energy sources.”

The Foundation was created in 1988 to advocate for the space industrialization and space settlement ideas of Princeton Physicist Dr. Gerard O’Neill’s Space Studies Institute, including Space Solar Power. The Foundation has testified three times (in 1995, 1997 and 1998) to the U.S. Congress in support of Space Solar Power. In 2000, the Foundation completed a $100,000 project for NASA on Assessment, Outreach, and Future Research of Environmental and Safety Factors related to Space Solar Power. Most recently, the Foundation has sponsored a public discussion to generate input for the National Security Space Office’s SSP study, published in October 2007, which concluded that SSP had “enormous potential.” The Foundation also published comments on that study.

“Harnessing Space Solar Power is a huge challenge,” Szoka concluded. “While we support a national initiative for Space Solar Power, we do not support, nor can the taxpayers afford, another massively expensive ‘White Elephant’ government space program. Only real ‘Change’ in how we pursue national space objectives can make SSP competitive with other energy sources. We believe the private sector will eventually develop SSP-the only questions are how long it takes and which country will lead. The government cannot economically develop SSP on its own, but it can assist the U.S. private sector by funding basic R&D, creating the right investment incentives, and buying SSP for its own needs. Such an unprecedented collaboration between the private and public sectors could build not just another program, but a new, green industry that would create large numbers of high-paying jobs for American citizens. Someday, well into this century, the SSP industry could even turn America into a net energy exporter.”

(Click at the top right of the iPaper viewer to go to full screen view.)

Space Solar Power (SSP) — A Solution for Energy Independence & Climate Change

  • http://www.totalsolarenergy.co.uk Total Solar Energy

    as long as it's not used like some james bond weapon, i think it has immense potential

  • http://thevitaminkid.blogspot.com autodidact

    Perhaps this could be revisited in 50 or 100 years. For the present, nuclear energy is a practical alternative. We have enough thorium to power reactors for longer than anyone can reasonably extrapolate, for example. With a little design work on thorium reactors, I am told, we could implement this as the primary source of electric power. In the meantime we could do pebble bed uranium reactors which are immune to meltdown, and other safer forms of nuclear power.

    Now is not the time for metaphorical pie in the literal sky.

  • http://srynas.blogspot.com/ Steve R.

    A potential issue that has not been incorporated into our national energy discussion is Heat Pollution.

    Basically, our energy needs are dependent on the number of people and our standard of living. A by-product of energy use is waste heat. The more people and the higher our standard of living, the more waste heat we generate.

    Nuclear Power and the harnessing of space power will add to our ambient heat (global warming).

    Global warming is not simply the result of “greenhouse gases”, global warming could be the result of burning million of years of stored energy (oil, gas, coal) and releasing it as waste heat.

    Please note these are anecdotal thoughts and are not based on any particular research. Additionally, I am not opposed to nuclear power or space solar power. As for “global warming” I am waiting for more definitive data. Assertions that global warming is the result of greenhouse gases may be simply a politically correct band wagon, My point is that we need to take a closer look at the roll of waste heat. We may be surprised..

  • http://www.rentecdirect.com Mr Landlord

    Whether or not the idea is good or bad, I for one am please with an administration who finally cares about what the people think.

  • Robert_E

    I think that this would be something that should be looked at closely. However, a bigger and better payoff would come in funding small scale solar and wind for all municipal and government buildings. But I am afraid that this may be a mote point since Obama has not shown the willingness to stick to his promises. I am talking about the waivers of Obama's Presidential order on lobbyists. If he let these waivers stand and continues to follow the same suite, his popularity and ultimately his effectiveness to get anything done will be severly adversly effected.

  • Ken Russell

    A Manhattan Type Project for our solar effort by the Fed. is what is needed NOW
    3 months and were still buying too much oil. Solar Now. To the grid NOW.

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