China checking feasibility of solar power stations in space

China is looking at the potential for space-based solar power satellites that would beam energy back to Earth.

According to Xinhua website, Lt Gen. Zhang Yulin, deputy chief of China‘s armament development department of the Central Military Commission, suggested that China would be looking at exploiting the solar power in space scenario as part of an overall project as using Earth-Moon space for industrial development.
China solar plant in Space
For China’s space programme this would entail the construction of a small space station in low Earth orbit, weighing about 60 tonnes. They would then build an enormous solar collector in space, beyond where the atmosphere screens out a lot of sunlight, then convert the power into a microwave beam that would transmit it to collectors on Earth that would feed it into the power grid. Unlike ground-based solar power, a space-based solar power collector would be exposed to the sun almost 24 hours a day.

The major drawback to building a space-based solar energy satellite consists of the high cost of shipping materials to a geosynchronous orbit where said satellite would be located. The International Space Station, which took over ten years to build, weighs 400 metric tons. A space-based solar power station might weigh as much as 10,000 metric tons.

A workaround the Chinese are looking at is to use materials mined from the moon. Robots would extract building materials and then ship them to the construction site in geosynchronous orbit where 3D printers would create components, and robots would assemble the parts together.

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