Author Topic: Fortune article on Chinese Space Plans  (Read 1292 times)

Offline Eric Hedman

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Fortune article on Chinese Space Plans
« on: 02/18/2019 01:31 pm »
A new article in Fortune outlines Chinese plans:

China Aiming to Establish a Power Station in Space by 2025

http://fortune.com/2019/02/18/china-space-power-station/

Offline Lar

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Re: Fortune article on Chinese Space Plans
« Reply #1 on: 02/18/2019 02:13 pm »
A new article in Fortune outlines Chinese plans:

China Aiming to Establish a Power Station in Space by 2025

http://fortune.com/2019/02/18/china-space-power-station/
Very low quality article, the headline doesn't match, it's just a high level roundup of rumors and announcements, nothing at all about the actual SPS system at the detail level we care for here :)

Thanks for finding it tho.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Online jebbo

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Offline zhangmdev

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Re: Fortune article on Chinese Space Plans
« Reply #3 on: 02/19/2019 10:32 am »
That is directly lifted from this

http://www.sohu.com/a/294583277_119038

The idea is SSP is the Manhattan Project of the new era. A lot of countries have been working on it for a long time. If a lot (money) is spent on the R&D (of the relevant technologies), our country hopefully will be the first to have a practical SSP in the world.

The conclusion is it will take a decade to finish the proof of concept stage, then start building a Mega-Watt SSP test begining at 2030. The long term goal is to have the capability to build a Giga-Watt SSP in 2050.

In other word, the technologies are still 10 years away, and there is no guarantee it will work.


Offline Blackstar

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Re: Fortune article on Chinese Space Plans
« Reply #4 on: 02/20/2019 02:42 pm »
That is directly lifted from this

http://www.sohu.com/a/294583277_119038

The idea is SSP is the Manhattan Project of the new era. A lot of countries have been working on it for a long time. If a lot (money) is spent on the R&D (of the relevant technologies), our country hopefully will be the first to have a practical SSP in the world.

The conclusion is it will take a decade to finish the proof of concept stage, then start building a Mega-Watt SSP test begining at 2030. The long term goal is to have the capability to build a Giga-Watt SSP in 2050.

In other word, the technologies are still 10 years away, and there is no guarantee it will work.

I don't even need to read this stuff to know what's going on in general, because we've seen this in the U.S. for decades: Somebody is doing some small scale proof of concept, but there's no major money behind anything, and there's a lot of hype, and it's all predicted to happen at some vague point in the future. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Around 2007 or so there was a lot of hype in U.S. space activist circles about space solar power. People took very minor developments, like the release of a report from an obscure Pentagon office, or a statement that Pacific Gas & Electric was interested in SPS, and assumed that they meant that it was finally going to happen.

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2764/1

From that article:

"Memories are short, but it is worth remembering that each of these announcements was met with a great deal of enthusiasm by space based solar power advocates. Some claimed that the 2007 NSSO report indicated that “the Pentagon” was now interested in developing space based solar power, and of course because the Pentagon had so much money, they could bankroll significant space based solar power research. In response, in October 2007 the National Space Society even announced the creation of the Space Solar Alliance for Future Energy to pursue the recommendations of the NSSO study. And after the 2009 PG&E contract with Solaren, some of the same space based solar power enthusiasts also claimed that “the American electricity industry” was now interested in developing space based solar power. It is not hard to search the Internet and find space advocates who were very excited and assumed that the subject was reaching critical mass.
So what happened?
The National Security Space Office was only a tiny, and not influential, office in the vast military bureaucracy, and it ceased to exist as an entity in 2010. The report it produced was forgotten relatively soon after it was released and did not lead to Department of Defense funding of space based solar power research. The Space Solar Alliance for Future Energy appears to have been dormant for many years now (there is no evidence of it actually doing anything).
As for Solaren, which was going to start producing space based solar power by 2016, after a number of years of nothing happening… nothing continued to happen. As of August 2014 Solaren’s CEO indicated that funding problems had pushed their delivery date back to “the end of the decade.” And the First National Space Society Solar Power Symposium also appears to have been the only Space Solar Power Symposium; although every ISDC since then has featured SBSP speakers. The field itself does not appear vibrant and growing."


So now we're seeing something like that happening with China. And I can bet you that SPS activists in the West are going to hype this development as if it means something. They're going to claim that China only funds stuff that they intend to pursue, and they always accomplish everything they intend to do, even if it is planned for 50 years from now. SPS activists latch on to any evidence of legitimacy that they can find ("The Pentagon is going to to it!" "Pacific Gas & Electric is going to to it!" "The Japanese government is going to do it!")

So now China's dipping its little toe in space solar power. It ain't going anywhere.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2019 07:37 pm by Blackstar »

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Fortune article on Chinese Space Plans
« Reply #5 on: 02/20/2019 04:55 pm »
It would nice for somebody to fly a GEO demo SSP, even if its 100kW. Theory and ground tests will only demo so much, a real world test over 36,000kms should prove it one way or another. 

For large GW stations to be financially viable they will need in space manufacturing, with lots materials sourced from moon or asteriods. Low cost fuel for LEO to GEO and moon to GEO materials transport plus low cost launch which is being worked on.


Offline Asteroza

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Re: Fortune article on Chinese Space Plans
« Reply #6 on: 02/21/2019 02:01 am »
The stratospheric station bit reminds me of the work StratoSolar was doing, with very large modular airships tethered to the ground, as an endrun around atmospheric interference.

A LEO SPS demo, using an ATK Megaflex array as the power source basis, is doable now for a working 100KW class SPS end-to-end demo (if unfortunately intermittent) if anyone ever ponies up the money.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Fortune article on Chinese Space Plans
« Reply #7 on: 02/21/2019 08:45 pm »
It would nice for somebody to fly a GEO demo SSP, even if its 100kW. Theory and ground tests will only demo so much, a real world test over 36,000kms should prove it one way or another. 

I believe that some kind of demo satellite was discussed in the US over a decade ago. Never happened, of course. And I'm not sure that it's even necessary. I think the whole idea just collapses on its own. Advocates talk about the supposed advantages of SPS, but they're really outweighed by the drawbacks and/or the advantages of having your power generation on the ground. For instance, an "advantage" is that the SPS is in sunlight 24/7, unlike a ground array. Except that the ground array doesn't require servicing by highly skilled labor, is easy to install, doesn't need to be space-qualified, can be easily replaced, can be located close to the user, etc.

As I noted in the linked article above and in a few other things I've written, one of the most telling things about SPS is that nobody in the wider energy generation industry, or even in the more niche solar power generation industry takes it seriously. The energy sector holds big conferences, conventions, symposiums, trade shows, etc. and SPS never appears there. Simply put, the people who generate energy as a business don't take SPS seriously.

I'm perfectly happy to see the Chinese chase this mythical dragon. But they're not stupid, and they're going to come to the same conclusions that most others who have looked at it did years ago.

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: Fortune article on Chinese Space Plans
« Reply #8 on: 02/22/2019 04:45 am »
I agree with Blackstar that SPS for the Earth is not cost effective, but it might be useful for the Moon and Mars as an alternative to nuclear power. For the Moon, it could provide heat, light and power during the 14 day Lunar night. For Mars, it provides power during a Martian dust storm.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline Lar

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Re: Fortune article on Chinese Space Plans
« Reply #9 on: 02/22/2019 10:56 pm »
I agree with Blackstar that SPS for the Earth is not cost effective, but it might be useful for the Moon and Mars as an alternative to nuclear power. For the Moon, it could provide heat, light and power during the 14 day Lunar night. For Mars, it provides power during a Martian dust storm.
it would be a delicious outcome to see the leading space transport companies implementing something the founders spoke against, and who knows, the tech might come back to earth eventually.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

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