browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.

5 Years

Posted by on December 7, 2015

Today, It’s been 5 years since I came back to India to pursue my dream of Carbon Nanotubes, Space Solar Power and beyond. When I look back, it feels new. A lot of things have happened. I know that the stuff I experienced would last a few lifetimes for many people. But it’s been crazy fun.

In 5 years, NoPo has survived. We’ve produced the best Carbon Nanotubes the world has ever seen. Built a new pilot plant. Raked up several firsts in Technology and won the 4th International Space Solar Power Competition. This win has now set the course for the next 5 years of NoPo.

I want to launch a Space Solar Power Satellite and generate first power before October, 2020. The Carbon Nanotubes we’ve made are crucial for this plan. With the deadline set, I need to make plans, give myself timelines to achieve the target. A space Solar power satellite can be built in a lot of ways. A large number of technology breakthroughs would make it awesome. But due to the time and cost constraints. I want to reduce the problem to one or at most two pain points. Solving of which will lead to immediate launch of the system.

Space Solar Power as a concept has been around for over 45 years. The idea in simple words is to have a gigantic solar panel farm in space. Beam this energy down to earth as microwaves and use it here for grid power. All the components of the satellite exist. But it cannot be launched due to one big hindrance, Weight. The satellite is grossly over weight, weighing in at 20000Tons. It is very expensive to launch something this heavy. Considering reliability of rockets, it is fraught with uncertainty and expensive power to earth.

Carbon Nanotubes can make excellent solar cells, Tethers, composites and field emitters. The first 3 properties have undergone extensive experimentation. With NoPo having our own Nanotubes, cost won’t be a problem but these do not comprise the one big pain problem that needs to be solved. Even if I were to build excellent solar cells, it wouldn’ make much of a difference to the overall structure. The tethers would hold the satellite together but won’t reduce costs or repair expenses. Composites can make things lighter and stronger but that won’t lead to cheap power from space.

The biggest pain is putting that weight up there, the rocket, the propulsion. If we can develop a radical, reliable and safe propulsion system; we can have a Space Solar Power Satellite up there. I know it sounds like a complicated plan but if one were to read the history of propulsion, they’d be surprised by how small the teams were. A handful of researchers developed all the propellants in use today. Rocketry has and is a very small group of tight knit individuals. For the last 50 years, there hasn’t been a single breakthrough in propulsion. Propellant compositions are still the same as in ancient times. If I solve the propulsion problem, we’d be able to launch the Space Solar power satellite almost overnight with off the shelf components. So that will be the pain, I’ll try to solve over the next 5 years.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.