These questions were pondered by Robert Reed II in this LUF Blog post. His conclusion seems to be that the concept of Space Solar Power is key.
If you've seen the Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP) promotional video Moon 2.0 Join the Revolution you will probably recall the segment explaining how in the future solar power satellites (screen shot right) could orbit the Earth, each providing enough clean renewable energy to power a city.
Certainly it is clear that the X-Prize Foundation and Google have identified this as a key inspirational point for the GLXP. Also, due to the lower Delta-V, the Moon is likely to be a more cost-effective source of the raw materials to build such satellite but first all the infrastructure needs to be established on the Moon.
Indeed, the concept of beaming energy sourced from the sun down to Earth has indeed already been the focus of many studies, some of which are summarised in the Wikipedia article. But there are still many questions:
- Is space solar power the best way to inspire the current generation on the benefits of space exploration?
- How will these far off visions be interpreted by people facing today's problems of rising fuel prices and global warming?
- Should solar power satellites really be included in conversations about fossil fuel usage and energy efficient houses?
- Considering the high costs of space missions, how are we going to pay the enormous costs of space solar power satellites and the infrastructure on the Moon to collect the raw materials?
We at White Label Space would like to hear your opinions about these issues. Please enter your comments at the bottom of this post.
To help you map out all the issues, you might like to watch this very informative session of the 2006 National Space Society and the International Space development Conference titled "Can Space Help Solve Earth's Energy Crisis?":