New Book: The Case for Space Solar Power

A strong case for harnessing space solar power is presented in this ground-breaking new book. Author John C. Mankins, one of the foremost experts in the field, presents his latest research in The Case for Space Solar Power.

The Case for Space Solar Power

The Case for Space Solar Power recounts the history of the space solar power concept and summarizes the many different ways in which it might be accomplished.

Specifically, the book describes in detail a highly promising concept — SPS-ALPHA (Solar Power Satellite by means of Arbitrarily Large Phased Array) — and presents a business case comprising applications in space and markets on Earth. It is possible to begin now with technologies that are already at hand , while developing the more advanced technologies that will be needed to deliver power economically to markets on Earth.

The Case for Space Solar Power lays out a path forward that is both achievable and affordable. Within a dozen years, the first multi-megawatt solar pilot plant could be in operation.

Given that space solar power can transform our future in space, and provide a new source of virtually limitless and sustainable energy to markets across the world, the book poses the question, “Why wouldn’t we pursue space solar power?”

The book is now available both in hardcopy and in an inexpensive Kindle format at If you don’t have a Kindle, there are free Kindle reader apps at that enable you to read it on your computer, tablet, or other mobile device.

Elon Musk Wins National Space Society Robert A. Heinlein Award

The National Space Society takes great pleasure in announcing that its 2014 Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award has been won by acclaimed space entrepreneur Elon Musk, the Chief Designer and CEO of SpaceX. In the last decade, SpaceX, under the leadership of Elon Musk, has been moving directly toward accomplishing goals that many of us in NSS think are of utmost importance, such as forcing a drastic reduction in launch costs by doing the very hard task which no one else in the world has been willing and able to tackle: working to create a family of commercially successful and reusable rocket boosters and reusable spacecraft.

The National Space Society’s prestigious Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award will be presented to Elon Musk at the 2014 International Space Development Conference (ISDC).  The conference will be held at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Los Angeles, CA. The ISDC will run from May 14-18, 2014.

The imaginations of our visionaries of the last 100 years will not be fulfilled until affordable, large scale and high mass operations can take place in Earth orbit and beyond. SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft is reusable and SpaceX is making great progress towards a reusable rocket, the key development that would make such operations possible.

About Elon Musk:

Elon MuskElon Musk was born in South Africa in 1971 and emigrated first to Canada and then to the US.  He has two B.A. degrees, one in physics and one in economics, from the University of Pennsylvania.  He became a multimillionaire in his late twenties when he sold his start-up company, Zip2, to a division of Compaq Computers.  He went on to more early successes, launching PayPal via a 2000 merger.  He founded Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) in 2002, the same year that he became an American citizen and also the same year he earned the money to fund the new company from the sale of PayPal.  The SpaceX Falcon 1 was the first privately funded liquid fueled rocket to put a payload into orbit.  The larger Falcon 9 rocket has been flying since June 2010 and SpaceX is also developing a reusable version called Falcon 9R and a much larger rocket, Falcon Heavy.  SpaceX has a 1.6-billion dollar contract with NASA to supply the space station via its recoverable Dragon spacecraft.  They are also a competitor in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Like NSS, Musk views space exploration as important for the preservation and expansion of humankind. Musk likes to say that we should become “multi-planetary” as a hedge against all threats to our survival. He said, “Sooner or later, we must expand life beyond this green and blue ball—or go extinct.” To help make that happen, Musk’s goal is to reduce the cost of human spaceflight by a factor of 100.

About the Robert A. Heinlein Award

The Heinlein award is presented once every two years for lifetime achievement in promoting the goal of a free, spacefaring civilization. The winner is determined by a vote of the NSS membership. The award consists of a miniature signal cannon, on a mahogany base with a black granite inlay and a brass plaque as shown.  The award concept came from Robert Heinlein’s classic book The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.  Previous winners include Sir Arthur C. Clarke and Dr. Carl Sagan. More information about this award is at:

Heinlein Award

About the ISDC: 

The International Space Development Conference (ISDC) is the annual conference of the National Space Society, bringing together NSS leaders and members with leading managers, engineers, scientists, educators, and businessmen from civilian, military, commercial, entrepreneurial, and grassroots advocacy space sectors.

National Space Society Issues Position Paper on Protecting Earth from Cosmic Impacts

On February 15, 2013, a meteor exploded over the Chelyabinsk region of Russia. The blast damaged over 7,000 buildings and almost 1,500 people suffered injuries requiring treatment. As we observe the anniversary of that event, it is important to understand its significance and specifically what it means for the United States. Millions of objects in space, including asteroids and comets, are in orbits around the Sun that cross Earth’s orbit. When they approach Earth, they are referred to as Near-Earth Objects (NEOs). Some NEOs are large enough to cause significant damage if they impact the Earth. Many such objects have struck Earth in the past, inflicting damage ranging from trivial up to and including global catastrophe. While a future large strike with catastrophic consequences is certain, we do not know whether it will happen in 150 million years or fifteen months.

The Washington DC-based National Space Society (NSS) has been a consistent supporter of actions to defend our home planet from such events. In a position paper released today, the Society focuses attention on the near-term need and the opportunity to significantly improve our ability to detect and track collision threats to the Earth. While recognizing that this is a global problem, the paper focuses on recommended actions for the United States. Additionally, NSS urges all space faring nations to add an amount of at least one percent of their civilian space budget for developing defenses against these threats.

NSS believes that the immediate task before us is to find and track NEOs large enough to cause damage on Earth. To this end, current US ground-based searches should continue, including use of the Arecibo radio telescope. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope should be fully funded and encouraged to vigorously pursue NEO detection. The B612 Foundation’s Sentinel Project and the JPL NEOCam infra-red space telescope should be fully funded. The Society also feels that now is the time to more seriously address the detection of long period comets. Additional work should be done on NEO characterization and deflection research.

NSS Director and Space Settlement Advocacy Committee chair Al Globus summed up the situation: “We face an existential threat. We can develop the ability to remove it. There is little or no benefit to waiting. Let’s do it.”

See NSS Position Paper on Protecting Earth from Cosmic Impacts.

Elon Musk’s Plans for Mars

From CBS This Morning: 2-minute video after 30-second advertisement.

Transcript after about 40 seconds:

“We’ve got to restore American ability to transport astronauts with domestic vehicles, and that’s what we hope to do in about two years.

“The next step beyond that is to maybe send people beyond low Earth orbit to a loop around the Moon, possibly land on the Moon — although I’m not super interested in the Moon personally because obviously we’ve done that and we know we can — but maybe just to prove the capability.

“Then we need to develop a much larger vehicle which would be sort of what I call a large colonial transport system. This would really be — we’re talking about rockets on a scale, a bigger scale than has ever been done before, that make the Apollo Moon rocket look small. And they would have to launch very frequently as well.

“That’s what’s needed in order to send millions of people and millions of tons of cargo to Mars, which is the minimum level to have a self-sustaining civilization on Mars.

“We might be able to complete that [rocket] in about 10 or 12 years, and hopefully the first people we’d send to Mars would be around the middle of the next decade.”