[ExI] space based solar power

Tom Nowell nebathenemi at yahoo.co.uk
Sat Apr 18 11:11:17 UTC 2009

I read the article on the company signing a deal with a California utility about space solar power. When I saw the sums involved, I knew this was vapourware. It's far less than the sums involved in getting people 100km up for space tourism, let alone the hundreds of billions mentioned in Keith's figures. They also mention in the article that they're talking to "united launch alliance" - who are far from being economical cut-price operators.

I went to my local library to read "New Scientist" and maybe see if any of the economics/politics magazines had anything interesting, but all the ones I liked were being read. So, I picked up "Flight International" and it turned out they had a space tourism special.


The interview with the guy running Virgin Galactic included the figure of $250m to $350m to fully develop and build the craft and have everything running to get people 100km up. Virgin aren't thrilled at having to develop the craft but seeing as there aren't any manufacturers to buy from, they're having to "do a Howard Hughes" (manufacture a craft and operate an airline using it).

Virgin are also conscious of how people say "I'll believe it when I see it" so they'll be taking one of their craft to the Oshkosh experimental air show to let people see the hardware. The article also points out that Virgin's strength is in market research and tapping currently unmet demands, which is how they figured out the size of the space tourism market to begin with.

I'm glad to see that space tourism (if only the 100km up, Neil Armstrong in an X-15 style of flight) is actually coming to market. Hopefully other space businesses will figure out a way to become reality rather than paper proposals.



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