Space Solar Energy Initiative
Our NASA Moon/Mars Cost Cuts
Station & Transport Lease Rates
Clean Energy, Cheap Hydrogen,
and Weather Control From Space
This section of our website has been prepared for companies, organizations, agencies, nations or individuals who will benefit from, or are supportive of:
- (1.) Reducing the likely man-made causes of global warming while increasing local and worldwide energy availability at no added cost, or:
- (2.) Dramatically reducing deaths, injuries, and property damage caused by hurricanes, typhoons, tornadoes, floods, droughts, forest fires and other weather-related phenomena.
The Space Island Group will make it possible for companies, nations and organizations to begin worldwide reductions of these harmful conditions by 2012.
This is a dramatic claim. Below well explain how well accomplish it, including the costs, timelines, and our funding sources for this multi-billion dollar effort.
Our Space Hardware
The Space Island Group, Inc. (SIG) will design and finance two categories of space hardware to make these results possible.
Both categories will incorporate components now used on NASAs space shuttles and other launch vehicles, and on todays communications satellites. This is not an R&D project.
Because we will not develop new rocket engines, guidance systems or other components and because well manage the program with private industry procedures, our development costs will be far below those of comparable government efforts.
Solar Power Array in
The first hardware category will be very large structures up to several kilometers wide called solar power satellites and solar reflectors, which will be assembled in space.
The second will be very low-cost manned and unmanned launch vehicles, and very large, low-cost living quarters in orbit able to comfortably house several hundred occupants at a time. These occupants will, among other tasks, assemble and maintain the orbiting solar satellites and solar reflectors.
Current Solar Power Satellite Designs
Solar satellites of various shapes and sizes have been designed by NASA, aerospace firms and independent engineers since the 1960s. They range in size from a hundred meters to more than five kilometers in diameter. Their basic components are (1.) solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity, (2.) a framework to hold the cells and their support equipment, (3.) devices which will convert the electricity into radio waves or laser beams able to safely send the power down to Earth, and (4.) receiving antennas on Earth to convert the beams back into electricity and feed it into standard power grids.
An Early Solar Power
One solar satellite variation generates electricity from an orbiting, high-tech boiler and turbine system.
Huge reflectors concentrate sunlight on the boiler, and lasers or radio waves would transmit the energy to receiving antennas on Earth.
Power is beamed to a receiving
station on Earth, and then
distributed to customers.
Solar satellites will orbit 22,300 miles above the Earth, in the same orbit used by todays communications satellites. At that height it takes 24 hours for an object to circle the planet, so from the Earths surface the com satellites (or solar satellites) appear to stay directly overhead all day and night. They never pass into the Earths shadow. Thats important to solar powered communications satellites, and even more important to solar satellites. This orbit will allow solar satellites to send their electricity down to a specific spot on Earth 24 hours a day for decades at a time.
Most of the components for these designs already exist, having been in production on other commercial projects for decades. Also, plants and animals have been grown under the weak beams these solar satellites will produce, with no physical damage. Environmental protection is not an issue, as we will explain later. The reason solar satellites havent been deployed isnt a technology issue; its economics.
Lights of New York City
as Seen From Space
Solar Satellite Power Costs
Earth-built components for a single solar satellite will weigh from several thousand tons to several hundred thousand tons,
depending on the design and power output needed. The largest versions could supply power to an entire city, state or province,
while the smaller versions could supply individual factories with heavy electrical needs, like aluminum smelters.
Communications satellites weigh from a few hundred pounds to over ten tons. Launching them on todays unmanned
rockets costs from $3,000 to $5,000 per pound (of satellite). Manned launches cost ten times as much. Several start-up launch companies hope to drop the unmanned launch cost to $1,000 per pound during this decade, but thats not nearly low enough.
The cost of electricity in the U.S. varies from region to region, depending on how its produced. Hydropower from dams is commonly the cheapest and nuclear is often the most expensive. The cost at the point of generation ranges from 4 cents to about 10 cents per kilowatt hour, which includes a profit of less than one cent per kilowatt hour. A few more cents are added to cover various taxes and the cost of transporting it over power lines to where its needed.
Three Gorges Damon
on China's Yangtze River
Earth-based power plants, including dams, cost from several hundred million dollars to several billion dollars each to build. The fuel for dams (water) is free, although several miles of scenic canyons are destroyed and thousands of people are often displaced. The Three Gorges Dam now under construction in China required over 1 million people to be relocated from villages theyve inhabited for centuries.
The cost of fuel for all other Earth-based power plants fluctuates widely over the 30-40 year life of the plant. It can often exceed construction costs, and the suspected environmental damage from carbon-based fuels is well known. Nuclear fuel causes less direct damage, but has higher environmental risks. Disposal costs of depleted nuclear fuel and the costs of tearing down old nuclear plants are extremely high.
Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant
An average U.S. home or apartment uses about 1,000-2,000 kilowatt hours a month, and a city of 250,000 with factories, stores, homes and streetlights might need as much as a billion kilowatt hours a month. Proposed solar satellites will generate from a few million to a few billion kilowatts each, depending on their size.
Solar satellites will generate about one kilowatt hour of electricity for each kilogram (2.2 pounds) of the satellites weight. A lot of this weight will be low cost frames, but a lot will also be higher cost solar cells, electronics and guidance systems. If solar satellite components cost an average of $100 per pound to manufacture and (optimistically) $1000 per pound to carry to orbit, theyd have to sell their power for 30-50 cents per kilowatt hour to pay off these costs in 30 years.
That doesnt include the cost of launching the assembly and maintenance crews into space at much higher rates, and launching and operating the living quarters for these crews. Even if solar satellite assembly robots were used, youd need people in orbit to maintain, repair and refuel the robots. The launch costs and maintenance costs for these crews could add another $200 per pound to solar satellite costs over a 30-year period.
Several innovative designs have been proposed which unfurl sheets of solar cells like umbrellas after theyre launched, then allow them to automatically connect themselves piece by piece into huge structures in orbit. These designs will reduce - but certainly not eliminate - the solar satellite manpower needs. Some 20% of communications satellites fail in orbit because of electrical problems, fuel shortages or because their solar panels fail to open as planned, even though this industry has 40 years of experience behind it.
The Space Island Space Hardware section below will explain how well make it possible for solar satellites to be launched, assembled and operated cheaply enough to profitably sell their power for ten cents per kilowatt-hour.
This will allow solar satellites to begin replacing most Earth-based generating plants during the next decade, which will in turn reduce the greenhouse gases these plants produce. It will also reduce the need for nuclear power plants. Conversion of 90% of Earths power needs to solar power generators could be completed by 2050, giving companies and employees several decades to adjust to this new technology.
Coal Fired Power Plant
Other Uses For Solar Satellites: Hurricane Control From Space
The cover story from the October, 2004 issue of Scientific American magazine described a NASA-funded study of how the
power beams from solar satellites could be used to steer a hurricane away from coastal cities by warming the air on one
side or the other of its path. It also explained how this beam could break up hurricanes, typhoons and even tornadoes by disrupting the delicate heat balance they need to survive. The article can be seen at: www.scientificamerican.com.
Aftermath of Hurricane Charley
The loss of human life (and wildlife) and the incredible disruptions suffered by millions of evacuees from the Florida hurricanes in 2004 are impossible to measure, but the insurance losses alone totaled some $25 billion. That was more than they paid out for the 9/11 terrorists attacks.
Payouts for uninsured losses from state and federal agencies plus emergency services and lost business in the region cost another $50 billion. Insurance losses in Japan, Taiwan and other areas of the world affected by the same worldwide storm pattern totaled another $24 billion, and the U.S. National Weather Service has announced that 2004 was the first year of a regular 30-year long cycle of increased storm activity worldwide.
Hurricane Damage in Florida
The first Space Island solar satellite prototype devoted to hurricane control should be in orbit by about 2012. It will likely test the storm-control computer models on Pacific hurricanes, which are spawned off the west coast of Mexico. These westbound storms usually blow themselves out in the Pacific before they reach land, so they offer a safer way to refine this technique in international waters.
Once the operating parameters are set, more advanced solar satellites will orbit over the Atlantic between Florida and Africa, off the coast of Japan and in other storm areas.
Legal Issues Raised by Using Solar Satellites For Storm Control
New York City
U.S. and international laws will have to be written to accommodate this extreme weather control from space, but those laws probably wont be drafted until the first weather control prototype begins its Pacific testing in about 2012. The United Nations may take the lead before then.
The Space Island Group is focusing on the technology needed to make solar satellites and solar reflectors (see below) economically and technically viable within the next few years. We are confident that lawmakers will address the legal and liability aspects of this program in time for these structures to begin serving the needs of Mankind early in the next decade.
Hydrogen From Seawater
Hydrogen Fueled Car
The auto industry will begin mass producing its first cars powered by fuel cells during the next decade. Theyll run on pollution-free hydrogen, but critics point out that creating this hydrogen from natural gas or oil, as is done today, will still produce greenhouse gases. Using electricity from power plants fueled by coal, oil or gas to split water into hydrogen and oxygen will have the same problem. And the cost of carbon fuels will double over the next decade, further driving up the cost of electrically-produced hydrogen.
If solar satellite receiving antennas were built to float on the ocean off the East, West and Gulf Coasts of the U.S., this low-cost electricity could produce all the hydrogen needed for the nations fuel celled cars. East Coast and Gulf Coast solar satellites could become hurricane deflectors as needed with only minor disruptions in hydrogen production.
Solar Reflector Facility
Solar reflectors will operate in the same high orbit as solar power generating satellites and use the same frames and guidance systems, but the sheet of solar cells will be replaced by an enormous sheet of extremely thin reflective material. Theyll also lack the solar satellite transmitters, so their cost will be less than half that of the solar satellites. Their purpose will be to reflect a patch of sunlight down onto the Earth 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.
Like solar satellites, these reflectors have been redesigned many times since the 1960s, but theyve never been built and launched for the same cost reasons. (The Russians have launched two small, umbrella-like test reflectors a few meters wide over the last decade. They lacked any guidance system and they were allowed to collapse after an hour or so, but they proved that sunlight could be bounced down onto the night side of the Earth.)
Aerial View of
If aimed down on agricultural areas, this continuous sunlight would let crops mature four-to-five times faster than normal. (Most plants experience 80% of their growth from 10 AM to 2 PM, when the sun is directly overhead.) Commercial forests owned by lumber companies would do the same, eliminating the need to cut old growth stands. Operators of the reflectors could charge farmers a monthly fee per acre to cover their costs.
If aimed down on portions of the eastern Pacific Ocean the extra sunlight could temporarily raise the temperature of the upper three or four feet of seawater by three or four degrees, increasing evaporation and cloud-generation. These clouds, carried over the western U.S. by normal jet stream flows a couple of days later, could extinguish the huge forest fires that plague the region. They could end droughts and reduce the need for more dam and aqueduct construction. In fact the rainwater produced by solar reflectors and the electricity produced by solar satellites could allow many U.S. dams, and dams around the world, to eventually be torn down and the rivers allowed to return to their natural state.
A variation of the material could allow sunlight to pass through, reflecting only the warming, infrared portion of sunlight
down onto the Earth. These reflectors, spending half their orbit far behind the Earth (from the suns point
of view), could bounce this warmth onto northern cities in the winter, raising their nighttime temperatures by several degrees
while reducing their heating oil consumption. In extreme cases two or three of them could be aimed at the same city,
keeping the temperature well above freezing. This would dramatically cut the taxpayer cost of clearing away snow and ice, and
reduce the economic losses these areas now suffer. Cities could be charged as little as $2 per month per resident to cover these
costs. The saving in heating costs to residents would be dramatic.
Earth at Night Showing Extent of
Street Lights and Other Artificial Lighting
How Will Solar Satellites and Reflectors Affect Global Warming?
The amount of natural solar energy - sunlight - reaching the Earths surface varies more than most people realize. In recent years NASA researchers have found that the sun itself puts out a little bit more or a little bit less energy every few years, for reasons that are not yet understood. At other times the Earth and sun pass through areas of space dust, reducing the amount of sunlight that makes it all the way to our planet.
Conditions on the Earth itself have an impact. Additional sunlight is reflected back into space by airborne dust particles from volcanoes or from desert dust storms. Erupting undersea volcanoes can warm the ocean, producing huge quantities of reflective clouds. The expanded ice caps seen during Earths many ice ages can also reflect more sunlight back into space, cooling the planet dramatically.
During the last Ice Age 12,000 years ago, sea level was 400 feet below what it is today.
You could walk from Alaska to Russia on a mountain ridge, which has since been covered by the rising sea.
All of Canada and half of the U.S. was covered by permanent sheets of ice hundreds of yards thick
Californias Channel Islands were part of the mainland back then, and what is today southern California desert
land was lush grassland and forests. The bones of huge mammoth, saber tooth tigers, grizzly-sized cave bears, ground sloths as big as a rhinoceros, and other animals that lived in the southern California then - but would only survive for a few weeks in its climate today - are on display just a few blocks from Beverly Hills at the Paige Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits.
Saber Tooth Tiger Stalking a Mammoth
For reasons that are still not completely understood (but are fortunate for us today), the Earth began warming again in fits and starts several thousand years ago. The Paige Museum is a stark reminder of the massive extinctions this warming caused, but the impact on civilization was minimal. In fact the retreating ice caps opened new land for agriculture and settlement.
A few hundred years ago, plague-ridden, short-lived humans had far more dangerous issues to understand than global weather conditions or air pollution. Even if they had the equipment to measure these conditions, they couldnt control them at all. But today, in a safer, more comfortable world, those issues have grown in importance.
Many scientists believe that the pace of global warming has increased over the last century, and that Mankinds consumption of coal, oil and natural gas to produce electricity and the power needed by our transport vehicles has added to that increase.
The dangerous air pollution caused by these fossil fuels has been greatly reduced (but certainly not eliminated) in industrialized nations, but the amount of carbon dioxide and waste heat generated by electrical power plants and vehicles from cars to jetliners has continued to grow. Of course humans and every other animal on the planet produce carbon dioxide (and heat) every time we exhale, but that growth cant be reduced. Carbon dioxide from power plants and vehicles can.
By analyzing air trapped in ice created tens of thousands of years ago, scientists have found that the end of most ice ages
correspond to an increase in carbon dioxide levels. Many have concluded that this increase caused the warming, since more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere allows it to trap and hold more of the suns warmth.
Change in Thickness of Arctic Ice
If this conclusion is accurate, then the carbon dioxide and waste heat from todays vehicles and power plants could accelerate global warming. A few hundred years ago that wouldnt have mattered much to Mankind. If the seas rose a few feet over a few generations, people just moved their coastal villages inland a few hundred yards. If certain animals couldnt adapt to the change and died out, people found something else to eat. (If the extinct animal wasnt edible, it mattered even less.)
Today, Mankind is far more rigid. We have trillions of dollars invested in immovable coastline real estate. Most of the worlds rich, famous, and powerful people live on or near these coastlines. Most of the worlds international goods move through huge, immovable seaports. Rising sea levels could devastate the world economy.
And then there are the animals. Today a more comfortable, wealthier, and far less endangered human race feel a responsibility to stop the extinction of species now living on the planet. In the past, humans did not have the tools at their disposal to do this. Today we do.
Very few scientists doubt that the production of energy and food to meet Mankinds needs is affecting the planets wildlife. The habitat cost of clearing forests and grasslands for farming has been well publicized. The construction of dams to supply water for farms and electricity for cities has had the same result. The impact of global warming, probably accelerated by carbon dioxide and waste heat from fossil fuel electrical plants and transport vehicles, is affecting Arctic and Antarctic animal populations, coral reefs and other isolated life forms around the world.
Solar reflectors could end the need to clear forests for farmland by boosting the yields of current farms several fold. Forest clearing for lumber could also be stopped if commercial forests could be ready for harvesting in five years instead of twenty.
The reflectors could also cut the need for water-storing dams by using the Earths natural cloud and jet stream processes to bring water where and when its needed. These new clouds could prevent millions of acres of old growth forest from being burned each year, and save the lives of thousands of forest creatures.
The acid rain that destroyed millions of acres of forest land in eastern Canada was caused by homes in New York and adjacent regions burning heating oil in the wintertime, and by emissions from fossil fuel power plants in that same area. Conditions have improved through pollution controls, but winter warmth from reflectors and electrical power from solar satellites could permanently end this problem.
New York City
Will Heat From These Orbiting Structures Warm the Planet?
All power plants, including those using nuclear fuel, oil, natural gas, or coal, generate their electricity by producing heat. About 1/3 of this heat produces the electricity. The rest, called waste heat, is dumped into the atmosphere through cooling towers. The carbon dioxide from all fossil fuels used in power plants (and cars) is also released into the atmosphere. Scientists believe that it captures additional heat from sunlight, raising the atmospheres temperature.
Solar reflectors and solar satellites will bring more heat into the atmosphere, but the amount will be far less than the waste heat generated by todays power plants. And theyll eventually end the production of carbon dioxide from power plants and autos. The heat they cause will be only about 1% of the waste heat and carbon dioxide generated heat theyll eliminate. Solar reflectors could also be used as sunshields parked over hot cities in the summertime. This could lower urban temperatures by up to 20 degrees, cutting the need for electricity to run air conditioners. Californias energy crisis occurred in July and August, when air conditioning needs peaked.
Solar Satellite Impact on the Kyoto Protocols - and on China
Most of the worlds industrialized nations signed this agreement to cut their carbon dioxide emissions below their 1990 levels by 2012. They were supposed to have their plans ready by February 16, 2004, but many have asked for extensions.
The U.S. didnt sign the agreement when it was drafted in 1997, and has refused every year since. This is because of the expected large impact to our economy. Beyond that, many scientists from 1997 until today have told the government that carbon dioxide may not be the main cause of global warming.
According to the International Energy Agency, the U.S. generates 23.5% of the Earths industry-produced carbon dioxide.
China now produces about 14%, and will likely pass the U.S. production rate during the next decade.
China signed the Kyoto agreement, but since they were considered a developing country in 1997, theyre exempt from the controls.
Theyre now building more new fossil fuel power plants than most of the rest of the world combined.
Most use coal as their fuel, and theyre being sharply criticized by environmental groups world wide.
Solar Power Station Under Construction
China has signed agreements totaling over $100 billion with oil-producing and coal-producing nations around the world to supply its energy needs over the next 20-30 years. The Space Island Group believes that China may be the first nation on Earth to purchase clean electrical power from solar satellites during the next decade, and that other Kyoto nations will follow their example. Its very likely that signed contracts for this power can be applied to Kyoto reduction goals long before 2012.
If China signs first, its likely that the U.S. will follow their lead. The electricity costs will be lower than todays, the pollution cuts will be higher than Kyoto would have required, and Americans ability to begin eliminating Middle East oil imports will be an enormous attraction. If the National Weather Services storm cycle predictions are accurate, the U.S. government and state governments could save tens of billions of dollars annually through prevention of hurricane and flood damage.
The Space Island Hardware That Will Make This Possible
Redesigned External Tank
A model and a component-by-component description of the Space Island launch vehicle can be seen at: www.spaceislandgroup.com/dual-launch.html . Nearly all components are now being produced for NASAs space shuttles or other current launch vehicles.
The vehicles largest single component will be a 27.5-foot by 180-foot fuel tank to hold the liquid fuel which
is fed to the engines attached to the tanks lower end. The tank itself is a longer version of the orange External Tank (ET) now used by NASAs space shuttle. Ours will be built on the same production lines as the ET, near New Orleans. NASAs ET is the same diameter, but only 154 feet long. Well add two segments to increase its length and fuel capacity.
The engines will be the same as those attached to the space shuttles tail. Theyre built in Canoga Park, CA at the Boeing-Rocket Dyne plant. (In early 2005 the Pratt and Whitney Division of United Technologies made a bid to buy the plant from Boeing.)
Attached to both sides of the main tank will be a slightly longer version of the two white solid rocket
boosters (SRBs) used by NASAs space shuttle. Theyre built by ATK-Thiokol near Salt Lake City, Utah.
SRB Separation from Space Shuttle
Attached to the side of the large tank will be a shorter tank 100 feet long, but the same diameter.
On later flights this section will carry supplies or equipment to our stations, but on the first flights its interior
will be set up before launch as a laboratory, factory section and living quarters for a crew of 12. NASAs Skylab space station, launched in 1973, was also a lab built inside in an empty rocket fuel tank. In that case the lab was launched on top of another fuel-filled tank with rocket engines at its lower end. Ours will be mounted side-by-side using the same brackets that hold the shuttle to its tank.
Attached to the upper end of this shorter lab-tank will be a cone-shaped spaceship able to carry two-to-three dozen passengers. It will ride to orbit on the thrust of the large tank and boosters, but it will return to Earth later on its own. It will re-enter the atmosphere almost nose-first, but as it approaches the landing site it will rotate into a tail-first position and land on its small onboard rocket engines. Two prototypes of this vehicle were built and successfully tested by NASA and the Air Force more than a decade ago.
The two rocket boosters will drop off two minutes after launch and be used on later flights, as is done with the shuttles. The large fuel tank, its three-or-four rocket engines, the shorter tank with its lab and living quarters and the return rocket will all continue on to orbit. (The shuttles orange fuel tank now accompanies the shuttle to orbit, and is destroyed when empty. Over 110 have been carried to orbit and destroyed to date. Over two dozen more will meet this same fate before the shuttles are retired in 2010.)
Here is where the Space Island Group will make a radical procedural change - a change that will shift the economics of space activity for decades.
Our vehicles large tank filled with fuel, its engines, its guidance hardware and the two rocket boosters can carry 100 tons of payload to orbit. If the return rocket were eliminated and the shorter tank was used to carry 10 ten-ton satellites to low Earth orbit about 400 miles up, it would cost about $400 million to launch. The satellite owners would be charged $40 million each for the launch, and two-or-three of these launches a year would handle all the commercial satellites placed in orbit annually.
The large tank, its engines, its guidance hardware and the shorter tank that held the satellites would all be left in orbit until gravity pulled them back to a fiery re-entry into the Earths atmosphere a year or a century later.
With the 30-ton return rocket filled with 30 people and the shorter tank carrying 65 tons of supplies, the $400 million launch cost would traditionally be recovered by charging the passengers $50 million each for the trip up, and charging the space station operator $2,000 per pound for the supplies. The station operator would recover their cost by charging the passengers many millions more to stay onboard this well-stocked station.
The two tanks have a combined interior volume of 150,000 cubic feet. The tanks are airtight, and the larger tanks fuel is odorless liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. The Space Island Group will leave both these tanks in orbit and convert their interiors into living and working quarters for a wide range of tenants.
Single Tank Zero Gravity Station
Well use half this interior volume for our crew quarters, control rooms, life support systems and other uses, and well lease the other 75,000 cubic feet for $25/cubic foot/day. Tenants can lease a 10-foot by 10-foot by 10-foot cabin, outfitted to their requirements, for $25,000 per day. Thats $685 million a year. Operating a station made of these two tanks will cost $100 million annually, so the entire payback period will be about nine months.
We see a market for thousands of these tanks in orbit over the next two decades, which means that we can carry passengers, supplies and materials up and back at no charge. Every launch will deliver another very profitable station segment to orbit for us.
Some tanks will float freely in orbit, meaning their interiors will be gravity-free. Others will be joined into free-floating clusters, or into slowly rotating wheels that will let occupants live under more comfortable, partial-gravity conditions. The launch engines and guidance systems will be used to move these larger stations around in orbit. The rest of this website describes these stations and their interiors.
During the last four years we have identified over 200 companies and over 300 university research groups eager to lease these facilities at these rates. And of course theres a tremendous market for tourists spending a week in the comfortable, wheel-shaped stations for $200,000 each. By 2012 we expect to have one launch each week and by 2015 that will grow to two launches per week. These very high production rates will dramatically drop our cost per launch, but today none of these future tenants can individually finance the $5-$7 billion it will cost us to build and test our first two launch vehicles.
Thats where the solar satellites come in.
No Government Funding
This is not a government program. We feel that taxpayers have already funded most of the hardware well use.
Now its our job to use that proven hardware to let a broad range of industries profitably capitalize on that investment. Along the way, we expect that we and these industries will create millions of high-paying American jobs that overseas competitors wont be able to take away for decades. In fact well make those American jobs a lease-condition for our tenants.
7-ET Zero Gravity Station
These jobs will start with the defense contractors. Some 90% of our development funds will go to the firms that now build shuttle components for NASA. Tens of thousands of current aerospace jobs will end when the shuttles retire in 2010. Our first launch in 2008 or 2009 will not only absorb those employees, but will increase their numbers many times over during the following decade. Many of the same firms will build our space hardware, but well use simpler, commercial procedures rather than the more complex ones used for government work.
The Space Island Group is essentially an aerospace marketing company in the same sense that a commercial airline markets the products of aircraft makers. Boeing builds great planes, but they could never run an airline. The skills needed are radically different. Our role will be to profitably operate these stations by filling them with paying tenants, just as an airline fills its seats and cargo bays with passengers and freight.
14-ET Partial Gravity Station
Firms havent rushed to lease space on NASAs space shuttles or on the International Space Station (ISS) because of high cost and limited capabilities. NASAs role was to prove that this equipment worked, not to directly spawn new space industries.
The hundreds of manufacturers weve spoken with are stunned by our low cost guarantees.
NASA charges $20,000 a pound to carry passengers and material into space. Well charge nothing.
NASA charges $2500/cubic foot/day for research compartments on the ISS. Well charge $25 for the same thing. To profitably manufacture new zero-g materials on the ISS and transport them on the shuttles, a company would have to sell them for $10,000/ounce. Our facilities will let them make a very substantial profit by selling these materials it for $50/ounce. These unique zero gravity materials will make possible electric batteries, fuel cell components, and solid hydrogen storage systems several times more efficient than those produced on Earth.
NASA International Space Station
Two sectors will profit most from the solar satellites well build: insurance and energy.
Based on the National Weather Service forecasts of increased storms over the next 30 years, insurers will likely payout some $40 billion annually worldwide for hurricane, tornado, and flood damage. Thats more than $1 trillion over the next three decades. Insurers have set aside reserves totaling nearly $400 billion to cover these payouts.
Were asking the largest underwriters to discuss how they could back a five-year, $10 billion line of credit for us in exchange for several years of free, as-needed use of the solar satellites for storm control. That amount will get our first station components in orbit, and let us build our first solar satellite prototype.
A conditional commitment of that size will in turn let us immediately sign advance lease agreements with the hundreds of firms and universities eager to use our facilities. Right now they understand our space hardware, but they dont understand where well get this level of funding.
Banks have told us theyll make loans to us once we get those advance leases signed, which could reduce our line of credit draw downs to nearly zero. This is how shopping malls and industrial parks are financed. The architects pick a location and design the facility, then get lease commitments from tenants of substance. Banks loan them the funds to buy the land and build the mall or industrial park, then collect a part of the lease payments until the loan is paid off.
The other economic sector that will profit most from solar satellites is energy. Most large oil companies have divisions making solar cells for houses, and several are producing hydrogen for experimental cars and trucks. Their crude oil supplies are stable at the moment, but 2004 was the first year in which they discovered less oil than they pumped. Most of them fear that the condition will only grow worse in the years ahead. Solar satellites wont put oil companies out of business for decades. But the fact that theyve changed their name to energy companies and that theyre already exploring other options like solar means that they see the writing on the wall.
The insurance company savings from solar satellites and the profits for the energy companies are probably a decade away, but their international image benefits to the public and to investors will be immediate.
The image of insurance companies has ranged from bland to negative. In late 2004 and on into 2005 some of Americans largest insurers have been sued for overcharging businesses, states and individuals. The insurance industry has played a key role in expanding commerce around the world for centuries, but today most people put them in the same category as used car dealers.
By backing our effort, they could change that image overnight. Theyd be using their financial resources to shield millions of people worldwide from Natures most devastating fury. Everyone talks about the weather, but this industry can finally do something about it.
And theres more. Insurers now own some $15 billion worth of communications satellites theyve bought through insurance payouts when they failed in orbit. Workers aboard Space Island stations could use space tugs to bring these dead satellites down from their 22,000 mile orbits to the 400-mile high stations, then repair or refuel them and tow them back to their operational orbits for $5-$10 million each. Insurers could sell them all for nearly $7 billion in clean profits.
Then there are the liability issues of space station crews and space tourists. An entire new field of space insurance would have to be created, and the firms who help us will lead that field. Its likely that the U.S. Congress would help insurers with liability caps for the first decade or two, since hurricane and tornado damage costs the federal government even more every year than it costs insurers.
The image of energy companies working with us would also give their public image an immediate boost. Instead of being the target of environmentalist attacks, theyd be seen as the key brokers of a program that will eventually put an end to man-made global warming. They could be the industry that lets Kyoto nations keep their carbon dioxide promises.
In fact energy companies international experience could let them sign advance agreements and collect deposits from energy-starved nations like China and India, financing their Space Island support with other peoples money. Energy companies could contract with us to build solar satellites just like they contract with firms today to build their offshore oil platforms. In fact some of these same firms could end up managing our station and solar satellite construction in orbit. In many ways industrial space stations will resemble offshore platforms more than anything else.
Well, thats our environmental story.
Insurers and energy companies certainly have the money to do this on their own, but it would cost them several times more than if they worked with us. By leasing our stations to tenants from the pharmaceutical, electronics, entertainment, tourism, and other industries, well spread the costs far wider than if they rested only on solar satellite construction. If insurance and energy firms had aerospace companies build and maintain the hardware for them, theyd pay the same sky high rates that NASA and other government agencies do.
We believe we have the keys to an incredible new profit center for both of these industries and their shareholders, and as a side benefit those keys could improve the lives of billions of people around the world.
Were looking forward to seeing if their executives are as visionary as their ad campaigns say they are.