An Open Letter to President Obama
Dear President Obama,
Your words are visionary but they are not being followed with action by the agencies in your administration. Three agencies in your administration are unwilling to even acknowledge a promising alternative energy source, space solar power. The concept of space solar power has been around for 40 years. Space solar power is the concept of putting large solar collectors in Earth orbit, using wireless power transmission, either microwaves or lasers, to transmit the power to customers on the Earth. This is a truly revolutionary clean source of energy which could be used to obtain nearly limitless amounts of clean, greenhouse gas free power, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week which could easily be exported. Yet space solar power has only gotten a total of $80 million of funding from the US government since the 1970's, none of it in the last decade. The Europeans and Japanese are working on space solar power. The Japanese committing $21 billion to the technology. The Russians, Chinese, and Arabs are also interested in space solar power.
In your speech on June 15, 2010 remarks to the nation on the BP oil spill: "The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash American innovation and seize control of our own destiny. This is not some distant vision for America. ... Scientists and researchers are discovering clean energy technologies that will someday lead to entire new industries." Yet agencies in your administration are ignoring space solar power, a concept which has only waiting for government attention and commitment to become a new vast new industry which will create millions of jobs, and bring America back to being energy independent and an energy exporter again.
In your April 15th speech at NASA's Kennedy Space Center you said "We will invest in cutting-edge research and technology. We will set far-reaching milestones and provide the resources to reach those milestones." Yet NASA is not investing in a space technology which will push the boundaries of energy technology. NASA's goal should be to become relevant to America's needs. NASA's goal should be to use space and space resources to make the United States not only energy independent, but an energy exporter again. NASA knows space solar power can do this but has chosen a different path for decades.
In your Transparency and Open Government Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, you called for the US government to become transparent, participatory and collaborative. Yet NASA, the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Department of Energy are ignoring the results of the Open Government Ideascale. The most popular idea for all of government, for NASA, the Office of Science and Technology Policy and for the Department of Energy-."Space Solar Power Conference - Hold a conference on space solar power which brings together NASA, the Department of Energy, The Department of Commerce, University researchers as well as corporations such as Solaren, PowerSat, Space Energy, Space Island Group, Boeing etc. Also inviting the Japanese, European, Russians and Canadians who are who are working on Space Solar power. The conference would develop ideas on how best to bring this technology to reality. Space solar power offers unlimited, green, base load power. It is now time to turn this futuristic concept into reality with NASA in the lead." Despite the popularity of this idea with the public nothing is being done.
Unfortunately in the United States, Space Solar Power has a policy dilemma, The Department of Energy considers space solar power to be space not energy and NASA considers space solar power to be energy not space. Although NASA is working on biofuels which are clearly energy and not aeronautics or space and the Department of Energy has worked on nuclear power for space applications which is clearly space. The Department of Defense would like space solar power since to would greatly reduce fuel truck causalities but space solar power is definitely not in their mandate. Also the DOD is developing lasers and microwaves for military use so they can not be involved in a civilian program to develop wireless power transmission. Space Solar Power has to fall in some agencies mandate.
As President of the United States your words automatically become national policy, yet your agencies are not following your lead. You have called for the development of clean energy technologies which create new industries yet your agencies will not fund development of space solar power. You have called for agencies to push the boundaries of technology yet the Department of Energy, NASA and the Office of Science and Technology Policy are unwilling. You have called for participatory and collaborative government yet your agencies remain closed to new ideas pushed by the public despite there popularity. Mr. President, please direct you agencies to hold the interagency conference on space solar power, proclaim that one agency is responsible for developing space solar power, and direct funds for space solar power research and development, such as, an end to end systems study, lab work, flight tests and tests from the International Space Station, followed by a space solar power pilot plant able to generate power in the megawatt range. Now is the time for the United States to seize the day and develop space solar power and secure our future freedom and prosperity.
Karen Cramer Shea
Space Solar Power Information Service