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IPFS News Link • Energy

Comparison of Current Space Based Solar Power Proposals

•, by Brian Wang

Virtus Solis is a funded startup working to develop space based solar power. They would leverage the low cost launch of the SpaceX Starship and modular satellites to enable power to be beamed from space at lower cost than coal or natural gas power. They have an in orbit demo planned for 2027 to beam some power from orbit to the ground. They are working with Orbital Composites on this effort.

Twenty five thousand 1-kilowatt solar power modules would be launched in each reusable SpaceX Starship launch. They would be assembled in space like legos. The orbit for each array would provide power for about 12 hours of a day. Two arrays would provide 7X24 hour power.

Virtus Solis has made components and tested them on the ground up to about 200 meters of power beaming. The 2027 work will show their capability to beam from orbit.

Today, the per kilogram cost of a Falcon 9 launch is $1520. Starship's larger size would allow it to drop that down by 40% to $970 on day 1 (assuming the total cost of launch for both remains at $100 million). SpaceX Super Heavy Starship, with improved Raptor engines, could launch 300 tons in expendable mode or 180 tons in reusable mode. The expendable Starship would be launching for about $330 per kilogram. A fully reusable Starship that could be flow 20 times (like a Falcon 9 booster) would bring the cost down to about $33 per kilogram. The reusable SpaceX super heavy starship will make the launch of a hundred thousand of these modular satellites affordable for a 200 MW system and then the 8000 MW system. The economics are shown in the table below.