Scientists transmit energy from space to Earth for the first time

A team of researchers from the California Institute of Technology reported on the successful testing of a prototype of a space solar power plant. It transmitted energy from space to Earth wirelessly.

A MAPLE device that transmits energy from space to Earth. Source: Caltech

The experiment was conducted using the SSPD-1 demonstrator satellite. The 50-kilogram vehicle was launched in January 2023. After entering orbit, it deployed experimental solar electricity panels designed to collect solar energy. 

The transfer of the collected energy was carried out by the MAPLE device (Microwave Array for Power-transfer Low-orbit Experiment). It converts it into microwave radiation, which is then transmitted via a phased antenna to a receiver located on the Earth. Then it is converted into an electric current. 

MAPLE is equipped with a similar energy receiver. In another experiment, energy was transferred from one wall of the module to another. Thus, scientists have demonstrated the possibility of wireless transmission of energy not only from orbit to Earth, but also between spacecraft.

It is worth noting that so far we are talking only about the fundamental verification of the technology. The energy transmitted to Earth would not be enough to even light an LED. According to the authors of the experiment, in the future they hope to scale the technology, which will open the way to the creation of a fundamentally new energy industry. The space solar power plant will be able to generate energy at any time of the day and will not be exposed to the weather. According to the researchers’ calculations, it will potentially generate eight times more energy than solar panels anywhere on the Earth’s surface.

You can also read about plans to generate energy in space using artificial photosynthesis.

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