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Published:July 2004
Origin:Presented at the 4th International Conference on Solar Power from SPACE, SPS '04, Granada, Spain, 30 June - 2 July 2004, proceedings to be published by ESA.
Abstract:In recent years the 10 MW, low equatorial orbit SPS pilot plant system design project known as "SPS 2000" has reached a sticking-point: the planned 100% automatic rendezvous and docking of 10 separate payloads and their deployment in orbit to a size of several hectares is impossible to test realistically in the gravitational environment at the Earth's surface. Consequently the system reliability is not sufficiently close to 100% to be considered an acceptable risk. In this context the 2003 decision by ESA and RSA to start operating Soyuz rockets from Kourou in 2007 creates the possibility of a definitive solution to this otherwise intractable problem. Crewed Soyuz flights from Kourou could provide the backup of crewed intervention for trouble-shooting and repairs in the event of problems. This project thus creates a unique need for crewed flight operations from Kourou - a capability which might otherwise remain unused.
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