by: Nick Maresco

As technology increases, scientists, innovators, and nations all together are looking at more ways we can utilize resources beyond our planet Earth. Whether it be by mining for valuable metals on the moon or nearby asteroids, it is an inevitable part of our future and may become very mainstream sometime soon.

To start off this “space race for resources,” China has decided to put its mark on a plan which would result in building a solar farm in space to derive mass amounts of sunlight, without the worry of poor weather and the dark of night to get in the way.

What’s even more unreal about this is that researches are examining ways they could use a space factory with robots and 3D printers, to construct the solar farm in space, scrapping the need to launch (possibly more than once) such a heavy object into space.

Researcher Pang Zhihao (main correspondent on released research), from the China Academy of Space Technology Corporation, said that the planned solar station would be expected to weigh a massive 1000 metric tons, compared to the 400 metric tons of the International Space Station (ISS). Pang also said that this solar farm would be able to reliably supply solar energy 99% of the time. In addition, it would be able to charge electric vehicles at any time, produce six-times the amount of energy than solar farms on Earth, as well as provide “an inexhaustible source of clean energy for humans”. The station would rest in orbit around the Earth at a height of 22,369 miles compared to the International Space Station’s mere 254 miles.

The average solar farm on Earth is able to fully power over 1,500 homes annually. The “space farm” would easily be able to power over 20,000 homes annually, on top of charging numerous electric vehicles and providing power for others areas in which it is needed, considering all estimations of the intended solar space station.

The solar energy collected by the solar farm would be converted into electricity and sent down to a receiving station on earth by the use of microwaves or lasers.

Graphic done by: Jamie Brown

On top of a “standard solar space farm,” a Megawatt-level space station is in the books to be built by 2030. This would provide larger quantities of energy than the desired standard space farm.

We just wonder when the U.S will make their next move in the quest for solar resources.

Image: PBS

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