A Unified Economic View of Space Solar Power (SSP)
Olds, John R.
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Space Solar Power (SSP) is a concept to beam energy from space to terrestrial power grids that could be feasible in about twenty to forty years. Due to the current climate of limited government funding for such large-scale space projects, NASA would prefer more industry involvement (technically and more important financially) in SSP. This study seeks to offer a unified economic view of SSP by examining the breadth of the SSP business case, from the development of the infrastructure (the actual SSP satellites) to on-orbit delivery. The indigenously developed Space Solar Power Abbreviated Economics (SSPATE) model is used to establish financial relationships between: 1.) the prices distinct Earth-to-orbit (ETO) and in- space transportation companies charge to a hypothetical company building Solar Power Satellites (SPS); and 2.) the financial metrics (Net- Present-Value, Internal Rate of Return, etc.) that can merit a legitimate business case for all three ventures. Deterministic and probabilistic models reveal that inherent trade-offs exist in either making the transportation companies (an ETO Inc. and In-Space Inc.) or infrastructure company (SSP Inc.) viable. Major reductions in SSP launch mass (even at the same cost as larger systems) is seen as one of the main mechanisms to alleviate this imbalance.