National Space Society names Ohio University “Center of Excellence in Space Solar Power and Power Beaming”

This article was originally published here by The Post, a student publication at Ohio University, and is reproduced with permission.

By Lauren Fisher

To Ohio University professor Don Flournoy, solar power used to be little more than a fantasy out of a science fiction novel. Now, that fantasy has become a reality — and one for which OU has received special recognition.

The National Space Society named the university a “Center of Excellence in Space Solar Power and Power Beaming” during the organization’s annual International Space Development Conference in Puerto Rico in May.

The NSS is an international, independent non-profit organization “dedicated to the creation of a spacefaring civilization.” It supports space expedition both at home and abroad, with the mission of mankind someday living and working “beyond the Earth.”

The society lauded OU students and faculty for their progress in solar power, as well as a process known as power beaming, by which solar energy is captured and converted into a renewable form of electricity.

Flournoy, Scripps College of Communication and School of Media Arts & Studies professor emeritus, found his interest in solar power in the 1990s while serving as the education vice president of the Society of Satellite Professionals International Board of Directors.

Flournoy, having introduced the first satellite communication courses at OU, is also the founder the Online Journal of Space Communication, a cross-discipline scholarly publication hoping to advance the study of space communication.

“By 2010, the idea of reducing dependency on fossil fuels by using (the) Sun’s energy taken directly from space was gaining momentum, and had become a priority mission of the National Space Society,” Flournoy said in a news release. “With my communication background, I understood that sun’s energy was already being used by space satellites to power the microwaving of voice, video and data to and from space.”

Using OU’s Game Research and Immersive Design lab, students and faculty have been able to create visualizations and animations that could prove instrumental in shaping the future of solar energy.

Alice Hoffman, an NSS director and program manager for the NSS Enterprise in Space initiative, commended the university and noted in the news release that being named a Center of Excellence signifies that an organization provides those interested in the field with the resources necessary to better understand the often-complicated subject.

Hoffman also praised the work of Lorna Jean Edmonds, Ohio vice provost for global affairs and International Studies.

A close working relationship with National Space Society Enterprise in Space is more important than ever for OU students. A number of student’s experiments in solar energy and power beaming will be carried onboard a spacecraft in the upcoming years, Flournoy said.

Although harnessing the energy of the sun tends to be an expensive and often-difficult venture, Flournoy said with continued development, it has the potential to be one of earth’s principle renewable energy sources.

“We feel this is a very important message to get out as the more people know about it and the more progress the government sees, the better off we will be,” Hoffman said in the release. “I am very concerned about climate change, and (solar power) is a lasting solution.”

To Flournoy, like many others, the world of solar power is more exciting than ever, with new technology paving the way for progress that could revolutionize the world of energy.

“We used to read about Buck Rogers being propelled into space above us. And now we can do that,” Flournoy said in the release. “Now we realize that the sun is a much cleaner, long-term solution to the production of electrical power. This Center of Excellence designation is a nod to the work we have done at Ohio University to help make this a reality.”

Petition: USA Must Lead the Transition to Space-Based Energy

Your signature on this petition will have a very real and positive impact on the United States of America and on all future generations of humankind worldwide.

Sign this petition and send the following urgent message to the United States Congress, to the President of the United States, and to future congresses and administrations:

Pass and support legislation to ensure national energy security and to protect the worldwide environment by establishing congressionally chartered public-private corporations for space-based energy, space mining, and spacefaring logistics. These corporations shall provide the United States, its allies, and trading partners with sustainable and carbon emission free space-based energy.

The United States of America faces a looming national energy security threat due to its dependence on a finite supply of fossil fuels.

Humankind worldwide faces an environmental security threat due to its dependence on fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned.

Sustainable, carbon emission free energy from space-based solar power (SBSP) is the solution. Simply put–and challenging to accomplish–SBSP consists of orbiting solar power satellites continuously harvesting the sun’s intense energy in space. The energy is beamed wirelessly to rectifying antennas on the Earth, and then transmitted to existing electrical power grids. Unlike terrestrial renewable energy sources, space-based solar power is nearly infinitely scalable. It is also continuous, so it can supply the planet’s baseload energy requirements.

For more information see the NSS Space Solar Power Library (

Alabama [and America] should lead in space solar power

NSS Board of Directors member Peter Garretson is co-author of an article on space solar power in the Montgomery Advertiser, stating:

Being the first to establish Space Solar Power systems will establish who is the “Saudi Arabia of Green Energy.” Space Solar Power is as significant an industrial development as the airplane, the automobile, the locomotive, or the steam ship. It will determine which is the richest and most powerful nation on Earth and beyond.

…Already China is ahead in the only space race that matters—a competition that will decide who writes the rules in the multi-hundred-of-trillions-of-dollars economy that will emerge (yes, you read that right). They have a national program in Space Solar Power. America does not.

…China—the country that built the massive three gorges dam, completed its Shanghai maglev high speed rail in just three years—is planning a hundred kilowatt on-orbit demo just nine years from now, and a hundred megawatt demo five years later.

Read the full article.

China and Space Solar Power

From article China Plans to Build Space Solar Power Stations:

“Lt Gen. Zhang Yulin, deputy chief of the armament development department of the Central Military Commission, suggested that China would next begin to exploit Earth-Moon space for industrial development. The goal would be the construction of space-based solar power satellites that would beam energy back to Earth.”

Space Solar Power Team Breaks Through at D3 Innovation Summit

SSPD3The National Space Society congratulates the Space Solar Power D3 (SSPD3) team on sweeping the awards in a March 2 multi-departmental competition to find promising new technology ideas that could simultaneously advance diplomacy, defense and development (D3). The SSPD3 team proposal was titled “Carbon-Free Energy for Global Resilience and International Goodwill.”

“Our multi-agency industry team proposal was in the top 1% of ideas picked to present to the very senior panel including the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the D3 Innovation Challenge, a first-of-a-kind contest for ideas sourced from across the Department of Defense, Department of State, and United States Agency for International Development by the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State themselves,” said team member Peter Garretson. “Our idea to start a national Space Solar Power Program won hands down, taking four of seven possible awards,” he said.

Paul Jaffe and Peter Garretson with Awards

Space Solar Power (SSP) is an energy concept where an orbiting satellite gathers energy from sunlight in space and transmits it wirelessly to Earth. SSP can solve our energy and greenhouse gas emissions problems and provide large quantities of energy to each and every person on Earth with very little environmental impact. This was the first time that SSP was briefed at such a high level.

The space solar power D3 team includes members of the Air Force’s Air University, the Naval Research Lab, Northrop Grumman, NASA, the Joint Staff Logistics and Energy Division, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration, the Army, and the Space Development Steering Committee.

“Space Solar Power has made a giant leap forward thanks to Paul Jaffe, Peter Garretson, and the rest of the team,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President  and Chairman of the NSS Policy Committee, adding, “We at NSS look forward to continuing to promote SSP at the national and international levels.” Space Solar Power is one of the milestones that NSS envisions on the road to a prosperous future where the resources of space come to benefit us on Earth. The NSS Roadmap to Space Settlement ( ) documents this and other milestones.

Further Resources:

D3 Space Solar Power Presentation

In 2015 a challenge was issued across the Department of Defense, Department of State, and the US Agency for International Development for the best ideas to advance U.S. diplomacy, defense and development (the 3 D’s of foreign policy). Of 500 ideas submitted, the D3 Space Solar Power D3 multi-agency-industry submission was in the top 1% of ideas chosen to present at the D3 innovation summit. This idea won 4 of the 7 possible awards: the Innovation Award, the People’s Choice Award, the best Interagency Collaboration Award, and also best Presentation. An 11-minute video of the presentation is below.

More on the D3 Space Solar Power proposal.

Space Solar Power Being Considered at High Level

The National Space Society (NSS) congratulates the “Space Solar Power D3” team on making it to the winners circle in a Department of Defense (DOD) competition to find promising new technology ideas that could simultaneously advance diplomacy, development and defense. Space Solar Power (SSP) is among only six winners out of 500 entries for the DOD’s first innovation challenge for the D3 (Diplomacy, Development, Defense) Summit. The SSP team proposal is titled “Carbon-Free Energy for Global Resilience and International Goodwill.” Their team has won the opportunity to present to the highest-level gathering of the three departments that are primarily responsible for U.S. foreign policy.

Winning proposal briefings will be made Wednesday, March 2 to representatives of the Secretary of Defense, the Vice Joint Chief of Staff, DOD senior leaders, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the U.S. Department of State. The presentation will happen at the State Department and a live stream can be found at

Space Solar Power gathers energy from sunlight in space and transmits it wirelessly to Earth. SSP can solve our energy and greenhouse gas emissions problems and provide large quantities of energy to each and every person on Earth with very little environmental impact. This will be the first time that space solar power is briefed at such a high level.

The space solar power D3 team includes members of the Air Force’s Air University, the Naval Research Lab, Northrop Grumman, NASA, the Join Staff Logistics and Energy division, DARPA, the Army, and the Space Development Steering Committee. NSS wishes them the best of luck in their presentation on March 2.

D3 team member Col. M. V. “Coyote” Smith, a professor at Air University’s School of Advanced Air and Space Power Studies, states: “When you think about what could advance U.S. diplomacy, development, and defense objectives simultaneously, what could be better than creating a source of global, constant green energy? Energy is going to be a $21 Trillion industry. Imagine if American industry was supplying green energy to the billions of people in the developing world. The studies suggest that could mean five million new high tech jobs in satellite manufacture and launch. The world of 2050 might require as much as 55 terawatts of energy. The Space-Based Solar Power resource is huge, many times the global requirement, with about 330 terawatts waiting to be tapped in Geostationary orbit alone.”

Smith continued: “A government-led demo would be the first step to retire the technical risk with commercial companies following quickly. The demo itself would have a strategic effect on our aerospace industry–generating about $5 Billion for satellite design and manufacture and another $5 Billion for the launch industry. We estimate the demo alone would generate approximately 171,000 new jobs.”

Smith added: “We’re not the only one in the game. In fact, at the moment, we’re behind in what we believe is the only space race that really matters. The Chinese have an increasingly robust program. So do the Japanese. Europe, too. But not the U.S. The Chinese proponents have it right that this is the most ambitious space project in history, and that Space-Based Solar Power will trigger a new industrial revolution and determine who will be the global leader. Space-Based Solar Power is not a competition in which we can afford to come in second.”

“Space Solar Power may be the answer to both the energy crisis and climate change,” said Mark Hopkins, Chairman of the NSS Executive Committee. “We have worked for many years to place SSP on the national and international agendas, including working with India’s former President Dr. APJ Kalam to begin a US-India collaboration. NSS is fighting for a prosperous hopeful future for all of humanity.”

In December, NSS leaders Mark Hopkins, Dr. Feng Hsu who is chairman of the NSS Space Solar Power Committee, and Dr. Don Flournoy who runs the International SunSat Design Competition that brings forward the best new ideas in SSP, traveled to China. There they met with Chinese leaders and their renewable energy and space solar power experts to establish a new initiative, the International Consortium for Space Solar Power Research and Development. NSS is also working with Space Canada to support the International SunSat Design Competition.

“We at NSS firmly believe,” says Dr. Feng Hsu, “that SSP is a viable and potentially permanent solution to address many humanity’s top challenges regarding environmental, economic or even global geopolitical issues.” He added, “SSP certainly deserves attention by the world community at the highest level. The time for a full-scale SSP demonstration and R&D program has been long overdue since the 1979 NASA-Department of Energy studies, and the time has now finally arrived for the U.S. government and the space and energy industries to take concerted actions in support of SSP.”  Feng concludes, “I have no doubt that if we in the U.S. continue to ignore the great idea of harnessing the Sun’s energy in a massive and unparalleled scale from space, we will risk being left further behind by the next technological and industrial revolution to be brought about by cheap, clean and abundant energy from space!” “National Security demands that America fund SSP research,” said Hopkins. NSS has created the world’s largest online library on SSP at

The National Space Society Pays Tribute to Dr. Kalam — One of Our Leading Lights Has Joined the Stars

On 27 July 2015, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, eleventh President of India and a friend and inspiration to the National Space Society (NSS), passed away. “NSS would like to convey our condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Kalam, and to all of India. His death is a great loss not only to India, but to the whole of humanity,” said Mark Hopkins, chair of the NSS Executive Committee. “In his honor, a permanent part of the online NSS library will be dedicated to his visionary space legacy.”

Dr. Kalam shared the National Space Society’s vision of the future of space solar power, exploration, and human development. He was a true friend to NSS — making time to meet with our members, attending and addressing the 2013 International Space Development Conference, taking part in our society’s press conferences, and giving his name to our shared Kalam-NSS Space-based Solar Power Initiative.

In alignment with NSS, Dr. Kalam’s vision encompassed the mining of asteroids and the use of the Moon as an industrial base and source of energy. Looking into the future, he saw an extra-terrestrial habitat on Mars as a fail-safe mechanism for problems on Earth. He hoped to see these activities blossom into a mature regime of space security, with Space Traffic Control, Space Debris Management, and an International Space Force for defense against asteroids.

Born in 1931, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was an aerospace engineer, a true rocket scientist who significantly advanced rocketry and spacefaring in India’s Defense Research and Development Organization and in the Indian Space Research Organization. Heir to the vision of Professor Vikram Sarabhai, who set India on a course of a socio-economically oriented space program, Dr. Kalam was the man who raised India’s eyes to the stars, and led India to join the community of spacefaring nations. One of the true statesmen of our generation, Dr. Kalam served as the 11th President of the world’s largest democracy, and was regarded as one of the greatest minds, visionaries, and peacemakers of the early 21st century. He died at age 83, articulating his visions to a new generation.

In a stirring eulogy entitled “India has lost its Jewel,” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Kalamji saw poetry in a tree and energy that could be harvested in water, wind, and sun. We should learn to look at the world through his eyes, and with the same missionary zeal.” He further stated, “his memory is best honored by the creation of new institutions that nurture science and technology, and enable us to find a beneficial equation with the awesome power of nature.”

We at NSS could not agree more. At the heart of Dr. Kalam’s vision was an international initiative to harvest the power of the sun and transmit it to Earth, what he called a “Global Energy Technology Initiative for Harvesting Energy from Space.” Dr. Kalam asked what vision could be “greater than any other vision so far envisioned by humanity?  … Clean energy from space solar power for 24×7.” NSS will pick up the torch and carry on his vision.

Dr. Kalam believed that space solar power was the key to a livable planet and to the elimination of man-made green house gasses. The scale of his vision for the benefit of humanity was vast — he believed that by 2052, India alone could have 108 satellites delivering 544 gigawatts of green power, doubling India’s per-capita GDP and avoiding 66 million tonnes of carbon emissions. To that end, Dr. Kalam proposed that the US, India, and other spacefaring nations invest $4 billion dollars in the next five years for a feasibility study and for development of the necessary technology to realize economical space solar power.

Dr. Kalam was a towering spacefaring advocate. His passing is a deep loss to NSS. Loved and admired by the masses of India, he was loved and admired by us as well. The legacy of Dr. Kalam’s writings will form a permanent part of the online NSS library. We were honored to work with him and to present him with our 2013 Wernher von Braun Memorial Award for leading India into space and for being a global leader in space development. He will be missed terribly by all around the world who share a common vision of humanity’s future in space.

Ad Astra, Dr. Kalam.

Dr. Kalam receives Wernher von Braun Memorial Award from Mark Hopkins at ISDC 2013.

Kalam Dream