Frequently Asked Questions
What is it?
If you are a scientist, engineer, or other space professional who has been unable to locate a digital media lab near you, or if you are a visual artist/digital media center wishing to be linked to a space solar power mentor/advisor, the SunSat Design staff may have some suggestions for you.
Who is behind this project?
The Online Journal of Space Communication
In partnership with:
Our partners are interested in putting four key assumptions to the test: 1) of all alternative energy sources on the horizon, solar power satellite systems are our best chance for addressing in a significant way future global economic development (and the adverse effects of climate change); 2) visualization of SPS is a necessary first step to public understanding and acceptance and advocacy; 3) digital media youth-in-training have the skills needed to help explain (and disseminate) these science fiction-like ideas to global audiences; and 4) the current college generation will come to maturity when “design thinking” will be most needed to solve multiple social problems at once. In this case, the pressing need is to reduce our planet’s dependency on fossil fuels for energy. Below is a sample visualization created by Ohio University students in collaboration with solar electric power scientist Lewis B. Fraas. Dr. Fraas’ presentation on Sunbeams from Space Mirrors Feeding Solar Farms was made at the National Space Society's International Space Development Conference in San Diego in 2013.
Several other visualizations are published in Issue No. 17 of the Online Journal of Space Communication. Additional examples may be found with a Google Video search for "Space Solar Power," “Solar Power Satellites,” “Energy from Space” and related key words.
What is the role of the SpaceJournal?
Journal Issue No.16: Solar Power Satellites consists of 27 articles authored by space scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and others addressing the question: “After 40 years, what do we now know and what can we now do that leads us to think we are ready to begin capturing and using Sun’s energy directly from Space?” These Journal articles represent some of the most up-to-date information on this topic available for public consumption in the world today. Archival materials and more recent developments are also posted within the issue.
The Ohio University Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Laboratory was commissioned to produce a 3D animation of a desalination project published in the Journal entitled "Vision for Producing Fresh Water Using Space Power." That visualization was used in author Kent Tobiska’s presentation at the May 2010 NSS International Space Development Conference, and will now be incorporated into a free Web App on Space Solar Power to be released by the Apple store in the Fall 2013
GRID Lab students, who produced most of the designs now featured in Space Journal No.17, are currently working on additional visual narratives for a variety of clients. These students are also serving as hosts, managers and consultants to the International SunSat Design Competition on behalf of the Space Journal, the SSPI and the NSS.
Download the PDF presentation: New Challenges for the 21st Century: Creating Fresh Water Using Space Solar Power (3.7 MB)
How will the Competition be Managed?
Precise judging criteria are still under consideration but will include such descriptors as: imaginative visualization; innovative design; credible science; plausibly workable solutions; environmentally safe; commercial potential; and understandable to the interested public.
The broad topic is Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP); the targeted sub-category is Solar Power Satellites (SPS). The Competition managers will accept proposals that address either (or all) of three segments: Space Segment, Earth Segment and Other. Permissible approaches to be undertaken by teams can include technical, economic, regulatory, social and other perspectives. Visualization of complete functional systems with a cross-disciplinary focus will also be considered.
The Advisory Panel has developed a tentative list of SBSP/SPS topics that may be suitable for visualization (others may be proposed):
Spacecraft Solar Collectors/Concentrators Wireless Power Transmission Space Environment Other
Rectennas Terrestrial Competition SSP Applications Environmental Solutions Other
Space Transport Propulsion Spectrum Orbital Assignments Alternate Energy Systems Other