[ExI] Power satellite thoughts

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Thu Feb 21 16:38:34 UTC 2013

This was written for another list.  There were interesting replies,
particularly on the Chinese media skepticism about the announcement of
cooperation with India, but I don't have permission to post them.


I have been talking about the Chinese being more likely to build power
satellites than anyone else for well over a year.  But the increasing
reality is still a shock

I sent the below to a former Chief of Naval Operations I met last
year.  He is retired and at Hoover now.

This is partly a cya so nobody can claim I kept this to myself instead
of trying to inform the US gov about it.

If any of you have other ideas about where it should go, please let me
know.  Can you think of any CIA types who might understand the
potential significance?


A friend of mine who speaks Chinese has suggested we consult
with them on power satellites and laser propulsion.  I am still trying
to work though all the problems this might generate.  I certainly
don't want to wind up like Dr. Reece Roth.

I think it is strongly in the interest of the US for the Chinese to
build power satellites given the concerns about putting more CO2 in
the atmosphere.  But if they do it with propulsion lasers . . . .  I
am reluctant to ask for advice, but if you want to discuss it let me

I think there is a good chance that the era of power satellite started
Nov. 2, 2012 with the Chinese announcement that they would
build power satellite in cooperation with India.  This came as a
complete surprise to the Indians and I don't think it is widely appreciated.

It's worth reading the news release:



China proposes space collaboration with India

BEIJING: China today rolled out a red carpet to "Missile man" and
ex-President APJ Abdul Kalam on his first visit to the country,
proposing a joint collaboration for a space solar power mission with
India and inviting him to teach at the prestigious Peking University

In a surprise move, the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), the
official body operating host of China's space missions as well as
satellite launches, invited Kalam to its headquarters where he was
given a "great reception" by the Chinese scientists.

Besides briefing the 82-year-old Kalam about its recent mission to
send three astronauts, including China's first woman to space, CAST
officials have shown "great interest" in partnering the mission with
international collaboration for Space based Solar Power initiative,
said V Ponraj, a scientist who is part of Kalam's delegation.

"Wu Yansheng, President of CAST has said his organisation is very much
interested to collaborate with India and ISRO on the space mission and
would like to establish a formal initiative from both the nations," he
said in a statement.

"Kalam assured, certainly he will take up this interest to the
Government of India and ISRO, so that a hard cooperation and
collaboration between ISRO, DRDO and CAST is realised on one of the
great mission, may be Space-based Solar Power initiative so that both
India and China can work for long term association with proper funding
along with other willing space faring nations to bring space solar
power to earth," the statement said.

"Such a mission will be a great example for the entire world and will
bring peace and prosperity to the both the nations as well as to the
world," it said.


Only three years ago we have this from CAST:

"The CAST SPS research team conceives that there are four imperative
sections for SPS development: launching approach, in-orbit
construction/multi-agents, high efficiency solar conversion and
wireless transmission. Except for launch, the other aspects do not
seem to be insurmountable issues for China in the upcoming years."


"Except for launch" indicates that three years ago they didn't have a
launch solution where power satellites made sense.

They may have figured out another way, but I suspect they are
intending to get the cost down with propulsion lasers in space (or
mirrors in space which is about the same thing).  In retrospect it's
kind of obvious.  The Chinese could have invented it themselves or
they could have been paying attention to my open source work.

Why involve India?

As Larry Niven said: "A reaction drive's efficiency as a weapon is in
direct proportion to its efficiency as a drive."  Propulsion lasers
are efficient and unavoidably weapons.  They obsolete virtually all
current military hardware.

India has the most reason to complain about the Chinese having
propulsion lasers, but if India jointly controls them, they won't and
the US will be out in the cold when/if they do it.  When the US
realizes they intend to solve energy and carbon in a way that
obsoletes our military hardware we will be stuck letting this happen
because the alternative is massive climate change.

Chinese government promises "whatever it takes" to cap coal use
Thu, 07 Feb, 2013 12:36 AM PST

"There is widespread fear that Chinese coal consumption, which nearly
rivals the entire rest of the world combined, will undo efforts to
combat climate change."


I suspect power satellites are their way to do it.

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list