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|Origin:||Proceedings of 5th ISCOPS, paper no. C-2.1, AAS in press.|
In recent years a number of countries in Asia, notably Japan, Korea and China, have achieved sustained economic growth rates of some 10% per year over periods of several years, which are historically unprecedented in the European/American tradition. At such rapid growth rates, countries can progress from "developing" to "advanced" within a generation or two. This new pattern of development offers new hope for the majority of the world population who still live in poverty.
However, in order to achieve such economic growth, very large energy resources will be required. In order for most of the world population to have a reasonable standard of living, energy sources are required that will be capable of expansion at a rate of more than 100 GW per year through much of the next century. In recent years the ever-increasing scale of human industrial activities has started to threaten the global environment. Consequently the quality of human life in the future will increasingly depend on utilising energy sources that are more environmentally benign than those used by the older industrialised nations during their development.
Electric energy transmitted from space to Earth has the potential to provide environmentally clean energy on a very large scale, and with the potential for very rapid growth. This paper considers the potential and prospects of satellite solar power stations (SPS) in this context.
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