Ironically while it seems half the planet is in a space race to either beat their neighbors to the stars, it looks as if Japan is busy figuring out a way to harness the power of one.
(Pink Tentacle) JAXA, which plans to have a Space Solar Power System (SSPS) up and running by 2030, envisions a system consisting of giant solar collectors in geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. The satellites convert sunlight into powerful microwave (or laser) beams that are aimed at receiving stations on Earth, where they are converted into electricity.
On February 20, JAXA will take a step closer to the goal when they begin testing a microwave power transmission system designed to beam the power from the satellites to Earth. In a series of experiments to be conducted at the Taiki Multi-Purpose Aerospace Park in Hokkaido, the researchers will use a 2.4-meter-diameter transmission antenna to send a microwave beam over 50 meters to a rectenna (rectifying antenna) that converts the microwave energy into electricity and powers a household heater. The researchers expect these initial tests to provide valuable engineering data that will pave the way for JAXA to build larger, more powerful systems.
If Japan is successful in their tests, they will not need to worry about mining the moon for Helium-3 later on down the road.
Although they have yet to put a human into space, Japan may gain a lead later on in the space race by focusing their attention upon harnessing the energy from above.
If successful, Japan could not only become energy independent, but sell their technology to not only present Earth governments, but future lunar and Martian colonies as well.
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