This Week In Space podcast: Episode 95 — Clean Energy From Space

On Episode 95 of This Week In Space, Tariq and Rod discuss the future of space-based solar power with John Mankins.

Climate change has become a top priority for all of us, including NASA. Space solar power — beaming energy from space 24 hours per day — has become a real possibility and is being studied internationally by the US, Europe, Japan, and China. It promises to provide a zero-emissions, zero-carbon source of energy worldwide — but it will take significant investment, development, and commitment. 

A recent NASA-backed study was positive but careful with its conclusions, and John Mankins, one of the first researchers of SSP in the US who continues to work on the concept, joins us to address the report and to talk about the possible future of limitless, clean, and affordable energy for a hungry world.

We'll dive into this and more on this episode of This Week in Space!

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This Week in Space covers the new space age. Every Friday we take a deep dive into a fascinating topic. What's happening with the new race to the moon and other planets? When will SpaceX really send people to Mars? 

Join Rod Pyle and Tariq Malik from as they tackle those questions and more each week on Friday afternoons. You can subscribe today on your favorite podcatcher.

Host of This Week In Space on TWiT
Rod Pyle
Host of This Week In Space on TWiT
Rod Pyle

Rod Pyle is an author, journalist, television producer and Editor-in-Chief of Ad Astra magazine. He has written 18 books on space history, exploration, and development, including Space 2.0Innovation the NASA WayInterplanetary RobotsBlueprint for a BattlestarAmazing Stories of the Space AgeFirst On the Moon, and Destination Mars

In a previous life, Rod produced numerous documentaries and short films for The History Channel, Discovery Communications, and Disney. He also worked in visual effects on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and the Battlestar Galactica reboot, as well as various sci-fi TV pilots. His most recent TV credit was with the NatGeo documentary on Tom Wolfe's iconic book The Right Stuff.

This Week In Space co-host
Tariq Malik
This Week In Space co-host
Tariq Malik

Responsible for's editorial vision, Tariq Malik has been the Editor-in-Chief of since 2019 and has covered space news and science for 18 years. He joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and soon after as a full-time spaceflight reporter covering human spaceflight, exploration, astronomy and the night sky. He became's managing editor in 2009. As on-air talent has presented space stories on CNN, Fox News, NPR and others.

Tariq is an Eagle Scout (yes, he earned the Space Exploration merit badge), a Space Camp veteran (4 times as a kid, once as an adult), and has taken the ultimate "vomit comet" ride while reporting on zero-gravity fires. Before joining, he served as a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering city and education beats. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University.

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News and editorial team is the premier source of space exploration, innovation and astronomy news, chronicling (and celebrating) humanity's ongoing expansion across the final frontier. Originally founded in 1999, is, and always has been, the passion of writers and editors who are space fans and also trained journalists. Our current news team consists of Editor-in-Chief Tariq Malik; Editor Hanneke Weitering, Senior Space Writer Mike Wall; Senior Writer Meghan Bartels; Senior Writer Chelsea Gohd, Senior Writer Tereza Pultarova and Staff Writer Alexander Cox, focusing on e-commerce. Senior Producer Steve Spaleta oversees our space videos, with Diana Whitcroft as our Social Media Editor. 

  • RegorSpaceMonkey
    Admin said:
    On Episode 95 of This Week In Space, Tariq and Rod discuss the future of space-based solar power with John Mankins.

    This Week In Space podcast: Episode 95 — Clean Energy From Space : Read more
    Rather than building a huge structure seems like we could take a lesson from the rather large drone arrays they have started using in public displays. each 'pizza box' could maintain position and orientation on their own and beam their power down to earth as part of the phased array.
  • Cigarshaped
    Interesting, practical talk by Mr Mankin. I'm not sure if John mentioned if these 'pizza box' transmitters will be geostationary? I assume that's the only way to keep the mlocked onto their receiver 'lakes'?

    There are a couple of downsides to microwave transmission. My time in the RAF taught me that you don't look into a radar transmitter beam directly or your eyes will suffer (and possibly your genetalia). We used to wear a special mask made of finely perforated metal. This was supposed to protect the eyes. This is the same as what is inside all microwave oven door panels. It is probably down the the power levels how much danger is involved.

    The other question is if/ how the tranmission is modulated.
    In the past Dr George Carlo did research into the effects of mobile phone transmissions. In those days he found it was actually the form of VLF pulse modulation, which is definitely harmful to our cells, rather than its pure waveform effects.

    The majority of 'Safety' rules seem to be based purely on the "heating effect" with no regard to the extremely low frequency modulation. I believe that modern cellular systems are now using a frequency modulation, but it will be still at very low frequencies. Who knows what cellular damage that can cause in the long term? And as for BlueTooth there is zero information on what modulation that uses!! It is considered safe purely because of low wattage/ heating effect. Anyway that diverted us from the great prospects of solar power.

    I think for us on the 'compact' islands of UK it is the physical real estate of land needed for these giant 'lake receivers' that might be an issue. As populations grow the housing areas are growing. Farming still needs land. Nature lovers like their open spaces, etc, etc. The further you have to transmit power the more losses it incurs.