China 2023-09-15T06:00:24+03:00
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China’s super heavy rocket to construct space-based solar power station

China’s super heavy rocket to construct space-based solar power station

China, rocket, space, PRC, Space-based solar power station, Long March
China’s Long March rocket. Photo by Xinhua.
China’s Long March rocket. Photo by Xinhua.

China plans to use a new super heavy-lift rocket currently under development to construct a massive space-based solar power station in geostationary orbit, according to The Xinhua News Agency reports.

"Numerous launches of the upcoming Long March 9 rocket would be used to construct space-based solar power facilities 35,786 kilometers above the Earth", – according to Long Lehao, chief designer of China’s Long March rocket series, speaking during a presentation in Hong Kong.

The project would aim to establish a large collecting area receiving solar energy near constantly, without the atmosphere or seasonal changes affecting energy levels. Converted energy would be then transmitted to Earth via microwaves or lasers. The project would provide large-scale renewable energy and help tackle energy resource scarcity.

The project, according to Long, would begin with a small-scale electricity generation test in 2022, leading to a megawatt-level power generation facility around 2030.

Commercial, gigawatt-level power generation would be realized by 2050. This would require more than 100 Long March 9 launches and around 10,000 tons of infrastructure, assembled in orbit. The complex project calls for a solar energy collection system with an area on the order of square kilometers and a large microwave power transmission sub-system.

Qi Faren, another senior space figure and chief designer of the Shenzhou spacecraft, also spoke of the complex megaproject and its potential value day earlier.

Both Long and Qi however note major challenges including economic feasibility and manufacturing costs, as well as the efficiency and safety of energy transmission.

Space-based solar power projects have previously been considered by countries including the United States and Japan. China listed space-based solar power as a key research program in 2008, according to Xinhua. The China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) in 2019 began building a test base in Chongqing Municipality for researching high-power wireless energy transmission.

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