IEEE Paper By Keith Henson: Feasibility Study Building Orbital To Earth Solar Energy Arrays In Space

Screen shot 2015-05-07 at 8.20.54 AM

X2-class solar flare: the sun is very active today, we feel the warmth pretty quickly.


My former brother-in-law, Keith Henson,  was one of the founders of the L5 Society which I was a member of way back in the 1970’s, has been pushing for a proposed orbital solar energy transmission system from space to earth-based receptors which we hope would overcome the problem of land-based solar energy, that is, nighttime shutting it down.  Our desire for this sort of development in space is based on the concept that humans must begin moving off planet or have civilization rot away back to Roman standards (SLAVES) in the far future.  Research in this area limps along due to the Bilderberg guys focused nearly entirely on running various stupid global warming con games.  So work on development is at a snail’s pace…but is beginning to pick up.


By late 1974, O’Neill had linked his ideas with Peter Glaser’s Solar Power Satellite (SPS) concept. SPS’s are large solar collectors in space that would beam energy for use on Earth or in space. O’Neill suggested that they be manufactured out of nonterrestrial material, providing an export product potentially valuable enough to make an O’Neill settlement economically self-sustaining.


In 1973, George Hazelrigg, also of Princeton, suggested to O’Neill that the L4 and L5 Lagrangian libration points might be ideal locations for the large habitats that O’Neill envisioned. (The idea of locating a large structure at a libration point can be traced back further to the 1961 novel A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C. Clarke). L4 and L5 are points of gravitational equilibrium located on the Moon’s orbit at equal distances from both the Earth and the Moon. An object placed in orbit around L5 (or L4) will remain there indefinitely without having to expend fuel to keep it in position. The orbit around L5 has an average radius of about 90,000 miles, which leaves room for a very large number of space settlements even at this one location.


My father lobbied President Carter to fund solar energy projects.  The original idea of home-based solar energy was pretty simple for my dad and incidentally, myself: solar arrays on private homes in hot climate/sunny locales could reduce greatly the need for daily surges in energy use due to air conditioners, etc. turning on which then go quiet at night.  This would also reduce air pollution during the afternoons which plague Los Angeles, for example.  The need to build more power plants to deal with hot weather surges would no longer be necessary.


This early concept of solar energy was tossed in the bin as ‘global warming’ believers pushed solar energy as a solution to running society without fixing the problem of how on earth this can function at night or how it can be worthwhile in cold, northern climates which have greatly reduced solar energy in winter due to clouds and angle of the sun.  Even if the panels are pitched to absorb solar energy with the sun lower in the sky, the radiation of the sun has to pass through a lot more atmosphere reducing it greatly making this incapable of producing significant energy even during the peak hours of the day.


I proposed ‘Power For the People’ along with my dad before he died, whereby the government would have this rotating bank funding for financing 0% interest loans for homeowners to install solar systems on their homes and as they pay off their own systems the money would flow back into the solar bank and fund more 0% loans which would then also be used to fund replacement/repairs of these systems.  I was supposed to go on national TV in 1999 to talk about this when ABC news suddenly called me and said, ‘NO ONE IS INTERESTED OR WANTS TO LEARN ABOUT THIS SO WE DON’T WANT YOU.’  Never heard from a news organization since then.


I was furious.  OK, I thought, give them time, in a year or two they will sing a different tune.  Instead, the media pumped up this stupid storm against CO2 that had solutions that are idiotic.  The more time passes the more the media giants avoid talking about the ideas my family and friends proposed way way back in 1975. Instead, Obama is shutting down coal power plants with…NOTHING in reserve.  Just shutting them down and forcing energy costs to soar with no solution or giving power to people to own their own energy systems.  It is all about enslavement.


Brief History of the L5 Society


One of the best successes of the L5 Society was its opposition to the United Nations Moon Treaty in 1979-1980. It was thought that the “common heritage” provision of the Treaty would stifle development of nonterrestrial resources, and that the Treaty would authorize warrantless searches of space facilities (which did not go over very well with people who actually wanted to live in space). The L5 Society hired Washington lobbyist and lawyer Leigh Ratiner, who gave intensive training to a number of L5 activists on how to walk the halls of Congress and talk to staffers. Notable among these were Eric Drexler, Chris Peterson (both of whom are current NSS Directors), and Marcia Allen. The successful effort centered on convincing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to oppose signing of the Treaty. Since nobody was lobbying in favor of the Treaty, it proved possible for a small but well-reasoned opposition to sway the day, and the U.S. never signed the Treaty.


The L5 Society did not fare as well in its next political battle, the fight over Solar Power Satellite funding during 1980-1981. The Department of Energy had spent about $25 million on SPS research from 1977 to 1980, but the Carter administration eliminated the $5.5 million for SPS that was originally in the budget for fiscal year 1981. L5 Director Mark Hopkins, who had been active for many years and later formed Spacecause and Spacepac, initiated an intensive lobby campaign to get Congress to restore the $5.5 million for SPS.


Carter had to balance the budget.  Remember those days?  Today, ever since Reagan, all our Presidents cheerfully dump debt on the American people…for wars!  Against Muslims!  And now, against Russia!  Lunacy reigns.  The NASA space program has rotted away with most research and money going to the Pentagon’s Earth Domination Plans and the CIA Eye In The Sky/Kill Muslims/Russians/Chinese programs.


Way back in the early days of the L-5 Society I was the Casandra who threw cold water on some of the dreams of my own family and others.  I warned people at meetings held at Princeton University and the University of Arizona that cosmic rays will cause high levels of brain damage and cancers and birth defects due to lack of sufficient shielding, for example.  I proposed much of the L-5 orbit activity be done by robots due to this problem but enthusiasts wanted to personally go into space so this debate angered some people.


Since then, robot technology has vastly improved making it wonderfully possible thanks also to giant strides in computer technology to build in space eventually.  I remember Asimov was quite enthusiastic about the use of robots in space.  ( Side story: once I introduced my daughter to Asimov and when he answered the door, she cried out, ‘Mommy, Bilbo Baggins!’  He laughed and said, ‘Yes, come it.’  She was so happy!)


The Space Shuttle was developed to be the transport between the earth and the L-5 space stations but military demands for use in the lower orbits to plant and service military/CIA satellites meant development was for a plane that couldn’t reach the higher orbits.  The moon was totally abandoned to my great annoyance because the building materials for any metals used in space or for any chemicals, too, would mostly come from the moon and even more, the asteroid belt.


A number of famous SF writers loved this concept starting with an old family friend, Heinlein of course, dreamed of all of this when I was a baby.  He wanted very badly to get the ball rolling and instead, the ball was dropped and he was very disappointed when he died.  As was my father.


IEEE Xplore Abstract – Solving economics, energy, carbon and climate in a single project by Keith Henson, my brother-in-law, has his latest proposal published this week.


A vigorous economy needs cheap energy. A sustainable economy, if it is to grow and prosper, needs more: energy that is cheap, clean and abundant. Renewable electricity at 1-2 cents per kWh would enable synthetic oil at $30-50 per bbl. Three cents per kWh would displace coal. Current and projected renewable energy sources are several times too expensive. Space-based solar energy from power satellites is clean enough, but has to date been far too expensive. This paper is an analysis of an affordable new approach to building and orbiting power satellites. Located in GEO, power satellites are in sunlight 99% of the time, eliminating the high cost of energy storage. Getting the energy to Earth via microwaves incurs a relatively small cost. Power satellites scale to more than ten times all current energy consumption. The problem has been the cost of lifting parts for power satellites to geosynchronous orbit. This article describes a way to reduce the cost of transporting power satellite parts to GEO by a factor of 100.

This paper was submitted to the Technologies for Sustainability (SusTech), 2014 IEEE Conference on July last summer. Space-based solar power has many challenges and difficulties and require a totally different focus on how we use space and exploit resources in space.  Both Japan and China are showing more interest in all this.  Japan, in particular, needs some form of energy that isn’t nuclear or oil.  So JAXA has funded research in this field. Money from the US government is rather thin.


This week, Northrop Grumman Corporation: News and Events – News Release is giving $17.5 million for studying space solar energy transmission possibilities.  This money is a tiny amount when we consider that a polar bear tracking program set up to prove that polar bears are roasting to death as the Arctic gets covered with more and more ice (snark) still, at least some money is being used for this purpose.


So far, money flows like crazy to a thousand ‘scientists’ who peg all their energy and studies on proving that we are roasting to death and obscure animals or insects might be annoyed by this slight rise in temperature since the end of the Little Ice Age.  Billions and billions of dollars are thrown into the garbage can while scientists try desperately to prove the earth is heating up like crazy and we will all die unless we move into Tiny Houses and cease doing what rich people do: fly everywhere, sail massive private yachts, live in giant palaces like the Vatican, etc.


This ‘Kofi Annan: Eat Bugs To Stop Global Warming‘ has reached the heights of lunacy.  These monsters, while dining on rare animals, are telling us to eat grubs because we have to live more like 3rd world peasants to save the planet from CO2 warming up Antarctica so it will be a hot -50ºF instead of -52ºF.  The push now is on.  The sun has continued to spit out sun spot X energy events which is why our weather this week suddenly warmed up greatly which is so nice after it was ridiculously cold for so long.


More hysteria from the warmists, of course.  In 2011, NASA GISS decided that the sun doesn’t determine climate, it is CO2.  There is an ‘imbalance’ according Hanson and we have to eat insects and shut down modern civilization due to this ‘imbalance’.


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16 responses to “IEEE Paper By Keith Henson: Feasibility Study Building Orbital To Earth Solar Energy Arrays In Space

  1. Jim R

    Solar energy suffers from benign neglect on the part of central planners, who want to control the whole planet by pushing buttons from their corner office at the top of the World Trade Center.

    Haha, oops no more WTC. But that hasn’t stopped the central planners. Now we have TTIP, TTP, etc etc etc. Run the world.

    Well, you see, rooftop solar does not support that idea. It means you may not need the utility company at all. You might not need to make payments (forever) to support that nuclear power plant.

    And we can’t have that. So solar panel makers are driven out of business, and then “business development” plans are put in place to slap tariffs on panels imported from China. OK, fine. China can use the panels itself.

    This in-orbit solar is a silly idea that the central planners actually like, but it probably won’t get too far. Turns out it is very very expensive to drag stuff into space. You can’t expect to make a profit on most things in space.

    Colonies in space make sense for other reasons, of course. For example if an asteroid hit the earth, or if stupid humans decide to off themselves with nukes…

  2. Ken

    I hate to burst Elaine’s bubble, but I would expect significant resistance from the public to the plan of beaming energy to Earth in the form of microwaves. A sizeable number of people are already freaked out about the amount of radio waves bombarding them in everyday life. High intensity microwaves would be seen as much worse. Also, a lot of people will associate microwaves with microwave ovens, and they would think that Elaine’s plan would result in all of humanity being cooked. And let’s not forget the potential for military and terrorist use if someone figures out how to re-direct the beam to a major population center.

    The real problem, as I see it, is finding a way to economically move the energy from the intensely solar regions of the planet to less blessed areas. Frankly, I see progress being made in technology which could be applied to this purpose.

    Example 1: the US Navy recently perfected a system for converting carbon dioxide in sea water into carbon-based jet fuel. (They have to get the carbon dioxide from the sea, since concentrations in the atmosphere are so tiny that the process could not work). The creation of fuel out of thin air (so to speak) would allow this energy to be transported from the manufacturing site to where it is needed via the current infrastructure of pipes, trucks, etc.

    As would be expected, the production process requires the input of more energy than the fuel will contain. However, if the production plant has access to lots of solar power, then this would not be a problem. In effect, we are talking about easily transportable solar energy. Although no one has yet suggested this proposal (to my knowledge), I’m sure someone will think of it in time.

    Example 2: improvements in batteries will have the same result. They can be charged where the sun shines, and then transported to where they are needed. Again, we are talking about a practical means of transporting the energy generated via solar power. Tesla’s new battery technology for homes is a step in this direction.

  3. Jim R

    That Navy project used a LOT more energy than they ever obtained in the form of jet fuel. Like a hundred times. But of course, the advantage for them is that they don’t need a lot of pipes and tankers and logistics, if they can make the fuel right on the carrier. And they have plenty of power from their military nuclear reactor. Nevermind the problems with land-based nukes, this is the clean-green Navy. If there’s a problem with it, they can just chunk the reactor in the Marianas Trench.

    Anywho, we ALREADY have a convenient way to redistribute surplus solar energy: the electric grid! Who’da thunk?

    As for night-time energy, like you said, battery technology is much improved over the ’70s. But there is also some very old battery tech:

    The financial weenies don’t like NiFe batteries because they last a century before needing to be replaced. IMNSHO, that makes up for their low power density and middling efficiency.

  4. JimmyJ

    Many people I know don’t have microwave ovens because they emit “radiation”, conflating microwave EM with nuclear ” radiation”. Not just that they think they will get fried by the EM microwaves, but something more insidious. In an age of anti-vaxers, science is not just a mystery but the devils spawn.

    I supported O’Neills SSI for awhile back when. I lament the very issues Elaine talks about here.

    More and more it seems clear the Fermi paradox is solved by the current behavior of our species.

    After the next world war there will be so much debris in orbit from anti-sat and anti-ICBM battles that we won’t be able to operate anything in orbit let alone a sunlight collector till its cleaned up and mustering the resources for a project that big after nuclear war will be hundreds of years away, or never.

  5. Mr Bill

    This is a true anecdotal tale relating how the establishment powers may bilk the energy consumer and deter the public application of alternative energy such as solar panels.

    A couple of years past, a close friend installed an array of full ground mounted, fixed position, solar panels plus all of the various components to provide electrical power to his full home. He opted to not install storage batteries for the night and other intermittent power shortages. Instead, he opted to work through the statewide regulated electric utility company to address the intermittent electricity demand. He researched, sought out commercial solar panel vendors, worked out an arrangement with the utility company to install automatic switching for inflow and outflow of electricity between his panels and the existing power grid and to provide accounting for the net elecricity flow into and out of his solar system.

    With all of the completed solar panel system in place, the technology for accounting for net power transfers in place and about $40 thousand in out of pocket investments, he was ready “to turn on his new power grid switch”. Indeed, when he “turned his system on”, everything worked as he had planned. He was on his way to near zero cost electric power. But, whoops, he apparently did not read the fine print in his deal with the statewide utility.

    He could watch his sophisticated power meters properly record excess energy from his solar panels being transferred to the public power grid. He could also watch the system reverse the energy flow when his panel output was deficient. All was well and good until he received his new monthly transaction accounting from the utility. He was shocked!!! The transaction accounting did show a significant decline in power usage from the public grid but the monthly electric bill was not much lower at all. That is, the monthly kilowatt hours used was much lower but the cost per kilowatt hour had increased. What had happened? It was mostly fees and other costs associated with bringing a private solar system onto the existing public grid.

    Well, it ultimately was the little game of legalese that favors the centralized sustainability of the electric opposed to the small, but numerous, homeowners interested in using alternative energies. Presumably, this utility, with the Public Service Commission looking on, simply stacked the deck against my friend. Legalese such as:
    1. Since the solar panels are intermittently sending electricity to the oublic utility grid, the homeowner is no longer a homeowner – the homeowner is legally a power generator that must sell electricity to the power company at wholesale rates (but purchase from the utility at retail rates).
    2. Since the solar panels are intermittently adding power back onto the public grid, then the power company incurs additional costs transmitting that extra power to other customers elsewhere on the grid. It is not easy to isolate that extra cost, so the homeowner must pay a fee to offset those costs.
    3. Since the solar panel system eliminates the bulk of the prior homeowner electric power usage into the future, the utility company can no longer include this specific homeowner in its contingency plans for grid upgrades and expansions. Further, the utility has no way to know if or when the homeowner may wish to fully discontinue their solar system. So, the homeowner must pay a “contingency” fee to help pay for a potential utility investment at some undetermined time in the future when the homeowner makes the undetermined decision to fully return to the public power grid.

    This is just a sampling for this very real alternative energy horror story. It certainly contains disincentives for alternative energy systems. Sure, this electric utility will help out the homeowner, but suddenly hidden fees crop up which basically maintains the revenue stream for the utility. Sure, the homeowner cuts back on fossil fuel, but at a direct personal out of pocket cost.

    In the meantime, this power utility more or less continues business as usual until they possibly make their corporate decision to invest in their preferred solar panel system – a large centralized array “plant” covering a large land area that feeds the entire power grid without all of those multitudes of pain in the butt private homeowners dribbling electricity into their “public” grid.

  6. Jim R

    … all of those multitudes of pain in the butt private homeowners dribbling electricity into their “public” grid.

    Mr Bill,
    I refer to the regulatory changes you describe as the Enronization of the electric grid. Now it is no longer a public utility but a feudal fiefdom.

    I have even heard that in some places, you are _required_ to have electric service from the utility, even if you have enough batteries to completely power your home without it.

    You might also look at all the toll roads being built all over the place. This return to the feudal system is one of the hallmarks of our failing empire. If not checked it will simply lead to another dark age, where no-one has electricity at all, as all the current unsustainable schemes peter out. And it’s getting harder to find a place far enough out in the country to avoid the kleptocrats.

    But since we were discussing space-based energy, you know, I just thought I’d throw out a logical, what-if, sort of thing that many of us have known about since the ’70s, something that we could do if we wanted, but apparently do not want.

  7. Mr Bill

    Jim R

    I think you baited me with that last paragraph. Yeah. You are on target. WE COULD HAVE BUT WE DID NOT. Indeed, the ’70s was the period when the first “The Limits to Growth” was published, considerations for alternative energies came into the vocabulary, environmental concerns were being elevated, etc. The big three alternative fuel sources, Solar, Wind, Biomass, were introduced during this early period. But, specially for Solar, it all starts with the 30 year average Solar Constant (1370 Watt / Meter squared). At that point, I suspect the basic science was established but the commercial applications followed later. But, the whole thing always seems to be somewhat political.

    So, assume there is a constant energy source, mostly from the Sun, that bombards the Earth globe with a constant 1370 watts per square meter, perpendicular to the incoming solar ray..That is the max, and the basis for both solar design and the global warming argument.

    Hell yea! Lets tap into it at the outermost opportunity. But consider the full overall societal impact to the prevailing equilibrium

  8. JimmyJ

    Elaine may be interested to know Oscar Holderer passed away.

  9. emsnews

    95 years old.

    He knew all about Operation Paperclip.

    About the energy scams and tolls: many toll roads were once public roads which governments sold to FOREIGN POWERS to let them collect fees. It is very much a part of the free trade disaster.

    The only way to capture the value of solar energy is to be totally off the grid. I was once totally off the grid. But my husband’s condition means I need constant reliable energy so I am now reluctantly on the grid again. Rats.

  10. Jim R

    And, congrats to your brother-in-law for getting his paper published by the IEEE. That is an accomplishment to be proud of.

    But unfortunately that sort of project just becomes another thing to sell off to some foreign oligarch. That’s my objection. Not that it can’t be done, or that the radio waves will have some bad effect. It’s another mega-project. And we are selling off mega-projects, like the highway system.

    America needs its own Putin.

    He came to power in Russia and got rid of all the “capitalists”, who were selling off the Russian economy in large pieces under Yeltsin. They are all still hovering around, like a cloud of mosquitoes, waiting for something to happen to Putin. In the old South we used to call them carpetbaggers.

    And all we have for candidates in next year’s election are more carpetbaggers. Some are stupider than others, but they are all carpetbaggers. We’ll probably be voting for Hillary in this household. But, at the end of the day, WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE? (haha)

  11. Peter C.

    Hairless monkey doesn’t have the tech for this.
    Still using chemical rockets like the Chinese did centuries ago.
    Lots of reasons we will never get off this dirt ball in any meaningful fashion.
    I left the church of never ending technological progress a while ago.
    No reason for our world wide civilization to last either.
    Once the oil gets too expensive things will start winding down.(Like now?)

  12. Jim R

    Watching it happen in real time is so depressing. It’s nice to know that there are others who saw this coming. Guess it was too much to hope for, that we could stave it off.

  13. emsnews

    I just got that news. The severe cold has decimated the agriculture of parts of Canada where the young global warmists marched a few weeks ago demanding a return of the Ice Ages.

  14. Jim R

    Here is one of those stories of what happens when you live off-grid:
    Police Abduct 10 Children … Because Of Their “Off The Grid” Lifestyle

    And a website devoted to the case (from link in story):

    The police might have harassed hippies in the ’70s but they have gone full-nazi now.

  15. Jim R

    Of course, when some of the back story comes out, they are living in filth and squalor and stealing from the neighbors. So, there’s that.

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