By Leet W. Wood | January 1, 2012
Space-based solar power is a system for delivering a potentially limitless supply of clean energy to a world desperately searching for alternatives to fossil fuels. However, while the system offers the promise of unlimited, “green” electrical power, it also has immense potential as a geopolitical tool. For example, this new power source could be used to support troops, rebels, or international aid workers virtually anywhere in the world. Space solar power research has recently experienced something of a renaissance, but so far there has been very little discussion about the security implications of this potentially transformative technology. While it will be at least a decade, if not two, before the infrastructure for deploying a full-scale system exists, developing policies and norms—international and national—capable of effectively engaging such a technically and politically complex issue can itself require years of work. Policy makers and political scientists should begin debating the security impacts of space-based solar power now, lest technological development outpace the ability of governments and international institutions to meaningfully assimilate it.
The Bulletin elevates expert voices above the noise. But as an independent, nonprofit media organization, our operations depend on the support of readers like you. Help us continue to deliver quality journalism that holds leaders accountable. Your support of our work at any level is important. In return, we promise our coverage will be understandable, influential, vigilant, solution-oriented, and fair-minded. Together we can make a difference.
Issue: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Volume 68 Issue 1
Keywords: NASA, National Security Space Office, PowerSat, SBSP, Solaren, Space Energy, security, solar power