[ExI] Power satellites (was:MIT boffins crack fusion plasma snag)

hkhenson hkhenson at rogers.com
Tue Dec 16 19:17:44 UTC 2008

At 10:38 AM 12/16/2008, John K Clark wrote:
>"hkhenson" <hkhenson at rogers.com>
>>CW solid state welding lasers you can buy *today* at $10/watt.
>A solid state Laser at that price? I'm not saying it's untrue but to me that
>price seems pretty low even for a CO2 Laser. I'd be interested where you got
>that figure.

Jordin Kare.  Google him.  Jordin showed a slide at a conference in 
October of a bank of 600W visible light semiconductor lasers that 
were being tested to power a tether climber.


>>There are times, and this is one of them, that just building the whole
>>thing is less expensive than trying it small.  The physics of power sats
>>just does not work trying to do it small.
>That was exactly my original point, and if you and I are right about that
>and it's just in the nature of power satellites that you can't build a
>realistic small prototype then they will never be built; or at least not
>built before the Singularity, after that all bets are off.

You can build a prototype.  It just that it's no more expensive to 
set up a GW/day production facility than it is to build one multi GW 
prototype with existing rockets.  It is close to 100 times as 
expensive per satellite to build a prototype this way and you don't 
get anything with further use (such as low cost space transportation system).

If power sats are not built before the singularity, then the chances 
are they won't be built at all.  In fact, I think a 30 year project 
to build them will be truncated by the singularity and the physical 
state population collapse.

>>What assumptions do you want to use?
>I assume power satellites are physically possible. I do not assume they make
>economic or environmental sense; and if you really can't know if the idea is
>any good until you've built the entire astronomically expensive thing then
>it makes no political sense either.

If that's the way you feel about it--without doing the hard work of 
looking at a design to cost engineering effort--that's ok.  In which 
case, what do *you* propose to supply the cubic-mile-of-oil per year 
energy the human population needs to avoid famines and resource wars?

The next best seems to be some 10 to 20 thousand nuclear reactors.

Keith Henson 

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