SPS-ALPHA (short for Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large PHased Array) is being touted as the first practical solar power satellite to be designed. Presented at the 2012 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, SPS-ALPHA is a space-based energy factory that harnesses the sun's power more effectively than earthbound solar power systems.
Getting solar panels into space is very tricky due to initial costs and later delivery of the energy generated. SPS-ALPHA solves these problems by way of a bio-inspired, modular design. SPS-ALPHA's floral shape is made up of small individually controlled mirrors that direct sunlight to a disc at the bottom of the satellite. On one side, the disc is covered with photovoltaic panels while the other side is pointing towards Earth covered in microwave transmitters that send power via low-intensity microwave beams to the ground.
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