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Dr. Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, a Senior Fellow at India's Institute of Security Studies, and Senior Fellow at India's Observer Research Foundation, is urging the United States and India to jointly develop an energy alternative that can take us beyond nuclear technology. Events like the recent earthquake in Japan are causing many to rethink traditional energy sources. The energy alternative suggested is Space Solar Power (SSP). In the online Analysis publication of the Indian Observer Research Foundation, Dr. Rajagopalan writes, "With the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, isn't it time for India and the US to make serious commitments to Space-Based Solar Power?"
Dr. Rajagopalan points out that the concept of space solar power is 40 years old. Much of its technology has been in use for close to sixty years. But space solar power has never been seriously pursued as a major energy option, even though there are supporters of space solar power in Japan, Russia, the European Union, and most of the world's leading nations.
The National Space Society (NSS) has recently teamed with a former president of India, Dr. A.P.J. Kalam, in the Kalam-NSS Energy Initiative, to drive home the potential of what Dr. Kalam calls "energy harvested in space". Kalam is famous for his accomplishments in the aerospace field. He is known as the "Missile Man of India" and currently serves as Chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology. Dr. Rajagopalan quotes Dr. Kalam: "by 2050, even if we use every available energy resource we have, clean and dirty, conventional and alternative, solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear, coal, oil, and gas, the world will fall short of the energy we need by 66%."
Space solar power involves placing large arrays of lightweight solar panels in high Earth orbit, where sunlight is 36 percent stronger than on Earth. Any equipment placed there is totally immune to earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, local wars, rust, corrosion, hail, and other forms of destruction occurring on the ground. The solar power gathered by the arrays is beamed down to a receiver on the ground. Clean electrical energy would be efficiently and safely delivered night and day, 7 days a week. Space solar power could provide a large alternate supply of carbon-free electrical power to the whole Earth. For details see Dr. Rajagopalan's article.
Most importantly, the prestigious International Academy of Astronautics is expected to complete a study of SSP within weeks, which may set the stage for the first substantial steps towards making SSP a reality. The National Space Society plans to hold a press conference at the National Space Club in Washington DC, concerning the study, when it is released. NSS also plans to hold a SSP symposium as part of its annual convention, the International Space Development Conference, in Huntsville, Alabama, May 18-22, 2011.
Dr. Rajagopalan's article can be found at: www.nss.org/orf-02April2011.
A video of the November 4, 2011 NSS press conference announcing the Kalam-NSS Energy Initiative is available at: www.nss.org/news/releases/pc20101104.html.
Information on Space Solar Power is at: www.nss.org/settlement/ssp.
About National Space Society
The National Space Society is an independent, international, educational, grassroots, non-profit and non-partisan organization devoted to the creation of a spacefaring civilization. It supports the exploration and development of space for the benefit of humanity. Founded in 1974, NSS is widely acknowledged as the preeminent citizen's voice on space. NSS counts thousands of members and more than 50 chapters worldwide. The Society also publishes Ad Astra magazine, an award-winning periodical chronicling the most important developments in space.
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Gary Pearce Barnhard
National Space Society
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