Peter Glaser at MIT – 1999 MA Space Grant Consortium Public Lecture

Peter Glaser at MIT – 1999 MA Space Grant Consortium Public Lecture


[MUSIC PLAYING] YOUNG: –and fellowships. We have had, in the course
of this lectureship, a very, very distinguished
group of people, beginning with Bill
Lennor in 1990. And our last speaker in 1998
was Dr. John Logsdon from DC. This afternoon speaker is
a friend of many of ours in this area, Dr.
Peter Glaser, retired a few years ago as the
vice president of Arthur D. Little, where for
many years he founded and for many years ran the space
research program at Arthur D. Little Dr. Glaser was born
in Czechoslovakia. Was educated in England at
Leeds College of Technology, as he was fortunate enough to
escape from wartime Europe. Received his degree
there in 1943, and enlisted in the
Free Czech Army, which was part of the British Army
and participated in the battle to liberate Europe. At one point in the progression
through Europe and that battle, the Free Czech Army
was transferred to the control of the US
Army under General Patton, and went as far as Pilsen at the
time of VE Day, at which point peace was declared,
they were liberated, and Peter returned to his
homeland of Czechoslovakia for a nervous period
of three years, wondering what the Russians
were going to do about it. His parents had returned from
England to Czechoslovakia. He took advantage
of that time to get a second degree in
mechanical engineering from the Czech Technical
University in Prague. And in 1948, when the
Russians did take over the rule of Czechoslovakia
with a very firm hand, he was fortunate enough to be
able to get out on just about the last plane to the United
States with his mother, where he was able to
convert his knowledge of mechanical engineering
and the $10 in a suitcase that he came to the US with to
a job with a textile company doing mechanical
engineering in New York. They thought highly
enough of him that they encouraged him to go
for an advanced degree, which he did, at Columbia
University, getting a master’s and eventually a
PhD in mechanical engineering. The subject of his
PhD thesis, which had to do with particulate
matters in vacuum in 1955, turned out to be very
key, a few years later, to the issue of trying
to understand the lunar surface, which after all, was
particulate matter in a vacuum. And Dr. Glaser was
able to contribute a very important contribution
to the success of the US Apollo program, and lunar
landing program, and the soft landings that took
place before it, by analyzing the data that was coming back
from looking at the lunar surface optically, and
concluding that, in fact, it was not a mile deep
of light powder, as had been predicted by
some who were doubters of the possibility of
being able to land anything at all on the moon. And as many of you know,
NASA, in a bold step, went ahead with the
plans for soft landing and was able to
succeed remarkably. He initiated and ran from 1955
on to his retirement in 1990 for the space program
at Arthur D. Little. Arthur D. Little, over
the course of that, put more experiments on
the moon than anyone else. And what he is probably
best known for most of us is the invention of the
concept of space solar power. He is the author of a book,
Solar Power Satellites, published by Wiley in 1997. And those of you who read
Technology Review may recall that his concept and his
design was on the cover not too long ago. The issue of space solar power
has once again, like a phoenix, arisen. And I think it’s
something that we will be wanting to pay a
great deal of attention to. Without taking any
more of his time, I’d like to introduce our
distinguished speaker, Peter Glaser. [APPLAUSE] And I’d like you to wear a– I’d like you to wear both– GLASER: Sure. YOUNG: —-[INAUDIBLE]
for television. [INAUDIBLE] This is for our [INAUDIBLE]. GLASER: Thank you very
much, Professor Young. Ladies and gentlemen, students
and visitors from the faculty, it is a great pleasure
for me to address you on a topic which has
occupied my interest for more than 30 years. I will try and, in
my presentation, show you the
slides, because they do a far better job
than my speaking to you, to show you that the
concept that I have proposed publicly for the
first time in 1968 is indeed worthwhile studying. And I’m pleased to share
with you that today, this is of major
interest internationally, and is being taken seriously
all over the world. I will show you slides which
hopefully will illustrate some of the points that I would
normally want to make, and have you get a feel that what some
people call science fiction is actually the
reality in your lives. So if I may– AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] GLASER: I wanted to just
start– this is very short quote from Stephen Jay Gould, because
we should not take for granted that the presence of humanity
is guaranteed on planet Earth. And basically, my feeling has
been for these many years that behind this is the capability
to utilize appropriate energy sources, find effective
uses for the energy, and at the top of my
list is to safeguard the Earth’s ecology
in the broadest sense that it can be done. The point that I
make here is that we are in a different world
in the 21st century, because we have to increase
the living standards of people. We have to stabilize
population growth. We have to safeguard
the ecology. And we have to avert the
specter of future wars. And how easy it is to start a
war, we are seeing right now. There are two aspects here
that we have to bear in mind. First of all, global population,
which is just about 6 billion. To put this into perspective,
when I was in high school, there were 2 billion
people on Earth. We expect, by the middle of
the century, to be at around 9, and towards the end, perhaps 14. Now, as more and more
people increase their living standards, they
need to use energy, although we do the
best we can to minimize the wrong way of using energy. And if you look at terawatts of
energy, we are around 14 now. We would be around 27 by
mid-century, and 42 at the end. These are unimaginable
numbers based on what we now believe we
have as energy sources. Totally unimaginable. This is a very
simple example here. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] GLASER: Oh, yeah. Thank you. A very simple example. 5,800 million tons, 1950. 18,700, 1985. And we now project 28,600. And the most
interesting aspect is that the developing
countries will use half of the energy in the world. And I always find
that people don’t realize that there are only
two countries which really are important in the next century. One is China, and
the other is India– purely on population. Now, the number of
energy economists who try and predict, when will
we get to this highest point– now, some say we’ve
already passed it. Some others say we will
probably get it by 2010. And only a few say it
will reach it by 2020. It is nearly immaterial when the
actual point will be reached. We have learned how to live with
an ever-increasing availability of energy. We have no idea what we will
be doing as it is decreasing. And here’s 2000– it’s
this fairly rapid decrease that we have to worry about. There is nothing in sight
that will allow us now to say, we will have the energy
we need without destroying the ecology of the Earth. Let me just show you the
problem we are facing. If we utilize oil,
gas, nuclear, it has already upstream effect– you know, coal mines, et cetera. We need water for
electric power generation. And look, all the
things that are happening in the air,
in the water, on land. And if it’s nuclear, we
have the storage problem. So please keep that in mind,
that those are the issues that the conventional– and I
put nuclear among them– have to face. Now look at the CO2 emissions. In the CO2 emissions,
coal is, of course, the greatest culprit. Oil. LNG. And only low ones are nuclear
and solar power satellites. Now, those of you who
have studied nuclear power realize that it is a clean
source up to a point, because where the
difficulty arises– we generate plutonium
in the process unless we have developed
fast breeder reactors, but even then, we
have some problems. Fusion is certainly a very
interesting possibility at some time in the future. And I am a simple-minded
engineer who says, I’m 100% for fusion. 100%. Because I can now use
an existing fusion reactor, which we call the sun. [CHUCKLING] What happens with CO2? Well, I like this
cartoon because it does indicate that we have
a problem ahead of us. And this is a United
Nations study which came up– there’s the results. What are the effects of
sea level rise on people living in the Pacific? Now, you see the profound
impact, and so on. There are about 300 million
people affected by this. Now, please imagine if we
have a problem with the Kosovo Albanians, and finding
ways for them to live. What would we do with
300 million people, and finding other
places to live? All of that is not
old stuff, actually. All of this was already
known in the ’60s. And it was because I was in
a very fortunate position at Arthur D. Little that I
was able to work with people who knew all about
power beaming, or wireless power transmission. Raytheon was our neighbor. And so I was able to come up
with what people then said was obviously science fiction. And that’s a first
artist concept that we have solar cells– this was a disk which rotated
so that we had very thin films. The power was fed to
transmitting antenna and directed back to the Earth,
where the power could be safely and very efficiently, again,
converted into electricity. Now, that’s the exact
slide I used in ’68, and I have not
changed my mind at all in terms of what
are the criteria. Technical feasibility,
economic attractiveness, ecological impact,
social desirability, political implications,
and public acceptance. That is what I
believe all the things that we have to do when we
develop new energy sources. Now let me go back in history. I’m an engineer,
and as an engineer, I’ve been taught over the
years, a good engineer basically has to be somewhat lazy. Because he has to look,
where are some good ideas that some of the
physicists came up with so that we can adapt them? Well, here is one physicist
whose name you know– Tesla. Because Tesla wanted– in 1908,
he built this tower with money from Mr. Astor. And what he wanted
to do is beam power. Now, he didn’t quite succeed
because the technology wasn’t there, but he was
on the right track. And of course, you realize
that without Tesla, we wouldn’t have all the
lights that we enjoy now. The other major
interesting device which was developed by Raytheon
was a microwave generator. Now, this device,
all of you know. You use it. Most of you use it every
day in a microwave oven. Now, we’ve got 300
million ovens in use now. Tremendous saving in energy. Now, in space, if you
want to use wireless power transmission for use in space,
we don’t need glass enclosures. We don’t need any of that stuff. And what we are left are
those two little things– the magnets and the innards
of a microwave generator. The second thing that we need is
a way of converting microwaves directly into DC, which was
considered an impossible task quite a few years ago, except
a very good friend of mine, Bill Brown– who worked at Raytheon,
who unfortunately died just recently– developed a dipole rectifier
which converts the microwaves directly into DC. These are dipoles, and
here are the solid state devices which do this job. Now, what you’re
looking at is one of the first microwave
converters, the beam converters, hyporeactive
[INAUDIBLE].. Bill Brown– I
think it was 1954– had an assignment from
[INAUDIBLE] Air Force Base to be able to build a helicopter
which would stay up forever if power is provided
from the ground. And lo and behold,
he demonstrated that this helicopter– here are the blades– was able to fly as long as
power is provided to it. A remarkable demonstration. He also showed that this
is a very efficient way of transmitting power. DC-to-DC conversion,
microwave beam– let’s see, am I focusing this? The microwave beam
and the collection. And if you look at all of
this, at that time already, it was about 55% efficient. That is from DC to DC. Now, you may recall
that we’ve learned how to produce very large antennas. In order to give you an idea of
what the size of this antenna is, this is a truck here. So we know we can build
phased array antennas, as these are called. They’re used by the Air
Force in various places. AUDIENCE: Where is that antenna? GLASER: That’s in
the Arctic region. Alaska. So back in 1970, with
all this knowledge base, I had the temerity– because my boss was, at that
time, General James Gavin– to be able to meet
with the NASA managers, and just explain to them what a
solar power satellite could do. And NASA felt that
indeed is a project of great interest to them. And what they decided
is to study this. And there was a
team that was formed with Arthur D. Little, Raytheon,
Grumman, and Spectrolab, part of Textron. You see, I had
people in the east who I knew who
would work with us. And this was the first
large-scale SPS system that was designed. Solar cells on a large platform. This is a antenna. And the only moving
part is the antenna, because as this is in
geosynchronous orbit, once a day, would have
to move with respect to the Earth and the bearing. Now you’re looking at the
underside of the phased array antenna. This is where the wave
comes out, microwaves. Here is the device which
produces the microwaves. The microwaves are then fed
into the rest of the antenna. And these are cooling devices
that it rejects any waste heat to space. Here, you see the
antenna on the ground. Please note that this
is semi transparent, and we can still use the
land underneath the antenna. It’s a large ground area that we
need, and we use a safety zone. And I’ll have more
to say about that. Well, this is– as you can see– the NASA SPS system
circa of 1975. It’s a very large-area receiver. And this is a area with
electrifying antenna. I was concerned that
NASA went a bit overboard because it was too large,
and the output of this was 5 gigawatts. Now, that’s a very
respectable energy output. Now, if you recall
the previous slide that I’ve shown
for fossil fuels, this is the same
slide now applied to satellite power systems. Much simplified,
and all the problems that you saw with
the others, there is nothing happening on Earth
in terms of waste products. There’s a lot of science
and technology behind this. I just wanted to
show you that it’s fairly basic to
understand what we need to do in terms of sizing. That’s a parameter
called tau, and it’s equal to the square root
of the transmitting antenna and the receiving
antenna divided by lambda, the wavelength
and the distance between the transmitting antenna
and the receiving antenna. NASA realized that we need
to have large launch systems. And therefore, they’ve
studied sea launch. And that has not been forgotten,
because there’s a company which wants to do that now again. Nobody believed that
this can be done. They said, well, these
are just paper studies. How in the world would
you really show us that this can be done? And so NASA allowed us
to use Goldstone in 1974. And this Goldstone antenna
site, we had Venus antenna that we could use. That’s Venus– sorry,
I got to get back here. That’s the Venus antenna. And we put a
microwave-generating device at the focal point, and
then beamed from there to a receiving antenna
on this large pole. And we had lights
connected to it so that as we
moved this antenna, we could show the lights
dimming and so on, indicating that we were getting power. This is a view of the
receiving antenna. And people ask me about,
why didn’t you complete it? Very simple answer. We ran out of money. These are the lights. And as we moved the
antenna back and forth, you could see the lights
dimming and getting brighter. There were questions,
of course, asked. Now, what if you do
something to heating up the ionosphere at
the wavelengths that we are talking
about, 2.45 gigahertz? By the way, it’s
in the ISM band– Industrial, Scientific,
Medical band, so they don’t interfere
with other people. And the concern was real. We didn’t have the
answer at that time. So what we did, we managed
to get an experiment in the Arecibo large dish. And we had a diagnostic
radar in this location here in Guadalupe. And therefore, we were
heating the ionosphere by putting energy into it– microwave energy. You see, here’s the microwaves
being reflected by this huge dish, 1,000-foot antenna, going
up through the ionosphere. And the radar showed
us, it’s not heating up. Well, that was a
great relief to all. And I think by then, we
had enough information, and NASA had continued
working on this till 1980. In 1980, the
Department of Energy said, well, we already
believe that beyond this time, we will have nuclear
power totally available in the United States,
and all of our energy will come from nuclear power. Furthermore, they
said that in 10 years, we will have demonstrated
controlled fusion. So essentially, NASA
was told, well, you don’t have to work on it, and
we’ll do these other things. And we’re still waiting for
controlled fusion, of course. In 1986, there was a big study
by the National Commission on Space in Pioneering
the Space Frontier. And here is the key statement–
what their ambition is. “Opening new resources
to benefit humanity by combining energy of
the sun with materials left in space during the
formation of the solar system.” Now, what that means, going
to the moon and building stuff on the moon itself. Now, there are a lot
of experiments and work that was ongoing then,
and we were able to show, if we would have experiment with
a shuttle, we could learn a lot and demonstrate how this works. And we were going to use a
Spartan free-flying platform which would beam to the shuttle. This was done with the Space
Center at Texas A&M University. And we thought we nearly had
permission to use a shuttle, but then they wouldn’t allow it. Because of the interest
in all of this, there was several other
places where microwave power transmission was of
growing interest, and one was in Europe. Europe has made a study that
they cannot rely on renewable energy sources. And the only sources
they can have are either nuclear or coal. And none of them– remember some of the problems of
nuclear in Russia, et cetera– were attractive, so they
said, what we’d like to do is take some of the
power from South America. And for example,
Venezuela has a Guri Dam which has enormous capacity. And also in Brazil, and
various other places. So they said, all we need
is to have a reflector. And that reflector, then
if you generate power from various sources here,
that reflector will beam up and will reflect back. And we had a space in
Spain allocated to this, and it looked like a
very interesting project, but the Europeans
found out that it’ll cost more than they
wanted to spend on this, so they didn’t go ahead with it. Now, there’s another
aspect to all of this. And that is, where
do people live? And we have studied
the possibility of putting these receiving
antennas not on land, because it takes
land which might have to be used
for raising food, but we put it in the ocean. And this shows you
the size of a antenna for 5 gigawatts in the ocean. And it has a dual
purpose because we can use it as a fish farm. If you want to have
salmon these days, it doesn’t come from
the rivers much. It comes from, I guess, Norway,
where they fish farm salmon. So here, we have the
possibility of dual usage. This just indicates how we take
care of the environment at sea by having our dipoles and
other stuff encapsulated, and it’s supported there. Now, this was not just a
hypothetical experiment. Let’s see if I can get this
[INAUDIBLE] go back here. Can you– AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] GLASER: Come on. Oh, thank you. That’s great. There was a big conference
on ocean cities in ’95. In fact, there’s
another one slated. And what’s interesting,
we mentioned about the population growth. All of the attendees said, we
can’t have all these people living on land. They have to live in the ocean. And that indicates
to you, as I believe. A typical question
that people asked, how do we control that beam? “A little to the west, Harry. We almost lost Detroit.” And I think it’s rather
important to understand, this is not a death ray. This beam has enormous
energy which it can provide. But look at these numbers. The power density at
the edge of the antenna is 1 milliwatt per
square centimeter. At the fence line,
it’s 0.1 milliwatt per square centimeter. And we expect that by
the time we have it done, it’ll be down to 0.01 milliwatt. Now, if you live in New
York or perhaps Boston, this gets to be what you’re
exposed to from all the devices that you’re using,
particularly when you’re listening to them on a phone. I just thought I’ll show you
the microwave field exposure guidelines. The OSHA is– that industry
uses large amounts of microwaves for various purposes. And there are
about 8 milliwatts, and different organization,
let’s say, go down to 5. And the public is
exposed to 0.5. Well, that’s not too
far removed from what we are talking about
for the buildings at the edge of the antenna. The only group that has
been very low is the USSR. And this is a purely
hypothetical level, which of course, they never achieved. If you use a microwave oven,
you might be interested what you’re exposed to. And if you look at
the 1 milliwatt, you’d have to be within– what– less than a foot, 6
inches of the microwave oven. By the time you get 4 feet away,
you really are at a very low level which you cannot
be concerned about. And that’s basically
what we expect will happen at the
receiving antenna as well. Now, somebody asked,
well, what if it fails? Well, here is a failure mode. Eastern European standards,
and total failure. And this is partial failure,
and the total failure would be around this level. Again, there’s
nothing that I believe needs to be done at that level. And we, of course,
have some control over the things
in orbit as well. Nobody believed us. You remember my offer
of the goose flying? Nobody believed us that birds
can fly through the beam and nothing happens to them. So we worked with a Boston
University ornithology center, and studied with them
the type of behavior on what species, the exposure
and flux density, and so on. And do they have any effect? We looked for all
sorts of effects, and the upshot was
no effect visible. Now, if we have a power
density at great distance, we would be at around– oh, gee. I want to go back here. Now I’m going the– how do I get it back? The second button? Yeah, thank you. 10 to minus 4 milliwatt per
square centimeter is sort of– we really are along a great
distance away at that level, no concern at all
about microwaves. There have been many other
uses of this kind of approach. One is a high-flying aircraft
which I’ve been studying again– actually, this was for the
Air Force some years ago. And it looked like a very
interesting approach. Now, the Japanese and
many other countries have followed very
closely our work. It isn’t classified,
and everyone can write papers about it. And in this
International Space Year, they arranged to fly
this kite, so to speak. And they had a Nissan truck. And this thing flies. And here is the device
which makes it possible. It’s on top of the
Nissan vehicle. And the airplane. And therefore, as long
as you provide power, the airplane will fly. The Canadians worked on it. They called it SHARP– stationary high
altitude relay platform. All this is for
communications purposes. And this round thing is
the receiving antenna. It’s done by the communications
department in Ottawa. And it flies. The Japanese started to work
on this probably in 1973. I had the pleasure of
meeting these people there in 1974 in Tokyo. And they really felt that this
was the answer to their needs. They came up with what’s
called the SPS 2000 project. And it’s the same idea. You beam from solar cells,
and you beam back to Earth. And this wasn’t a hypothetical. As you can see, they
actually started to build these
structures, and trying to understand how to design
those kind of structures. They had a visit of
various people here, a whole group of them, and
the interesting Japan External Trade Organization, to
talk about their R&D, and what we are doing,
and what can be done. Another thing that has happened
in Japan is dirigibles. If you want to have a dirigible
to stay up forever, what you do is have a transmitter which
sends a signal to the array. Produces power so that
it’s kept up there. And there it flies forever,
if you’d like to have it fly, doing all the things
from the altitude– for example, communications. Another thing that
the Japanese did, and I think a very
interesting project. This was a rocket on which
they mounted transmitters and receivers of microwaves. These are just some
of the details of it. Again, we worked
with Texas A&M on it, and they developed
dipole rectifiers which are two-dimensional. And now you see
the whole rocket. And this is what it was
supposed to do, and it did it. The microwave experiment
transmission system beamed power from the
rocket to a satellite. Now, that is a very
important demonstration with a lot of interesting
possibilities. In Germany, it was of
great interest as well. This is power from space. The Russians, of
course, followed what we were doing very closely. And I was, in the
1980s, the chairman of the Space Power Committee of
the International Astronautical Federation. And we had some Russians
on the committee. And I said, fellas, we’re
telling you what we’re doing. We’d like you to tell
us what you’re doing. And so in 1985, October,
in the Stockholm meeting, a very senior scientist,
Professor [INAUDIBLE] of the Moscow Aviation
Institute in the Cosmos Council gave us his paper saying
what we are doing. This is a very
interesting thing. Look at it. In 1990, somewhere
around here, they were going to light up
the Earth from space. Then they would energetic
transmission of energy through space, and so ending
up with solar power satellite demonstration by 2010. They have pictures of
some of their devices. I don’t know if you’ve read it,
but on schedule that time, they launched a giant space mirror. Now, the reason for
learning how to do that is because the thin film
solar cells are then mounted on the mirror. It doesn’t just
reflect sunlight. That’s a good thing to tell
the people in the press. And this is a mirror
during deployment. As I had hoped–
and actually, I had hoped to do this
earlier this year, but unfortunately, the mirror,
which was 85 feet diameter, collided with the
spacecraft, and it didn’t deploy, which is too bad. They did another thing
which we have to look at was quite a feat. From Mir– they called
it a Mir plasma beam– they sent a Swedish
satellite called Freya. Now, I let you imagine what
this means with some moving things in orbit. And it was a
successful experiment. Therefore, just showing
you the sophistication that these people
already have for it. NASA has recovered from the
defeat of DOE’s stopping their program in 1980, and
about two years ago started what’s called a fresh
look on space power. And this made the front page in
May 1997 of Aerospace America. They have now $15 million to
study it at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. And as you can see, it looks
different than the old NASA SPS reference system. Has very interesting
advantages, so there’s lots you can read about it. You probably recognize
this picture. And I have lived on the moon
vicariously for many years, so I have great interest in
doing the things I’ve just told you on the moon. And I couldn’t help but
show you this experiment. The laser ranging
retroreflector experiment was placed on the
moon July 16, 1969 by Buzz Aldrin,
good friend of mine. And it’s the only
experiment still being used by about 70
investigators, not just to measure the Earth-Moon
distance, but all sorts of other things. There’s a laser built into a
telescope at Haleakala Mountain on Hawaii. Sends a beam of laser,
and a pulsed laser, and we can measure time
accurately, et cetera. This is sort of a high
school problem, how you can determine distance from
the telescope to this device very accurately. We’ve studied all
sorts of things that would be done on the
moon, and how we can use that. And of interest is
that we can utilize the energy near the
northern and southern poles, and have it continuous,
and then feed it antennas like you
see in the background, and beam power back to Earth. As well as what I have proposed,
that if you have a laser which is powerful enough– and we have
all the power there we need– we can change the way asteroids
and other unpleasant visitors come into our neighborhood
by directing them into another orbit. There’s a business here
as well, of course. And that’s why many countries
are very interested, and I’ve mentioned
a few of them. It may be perhaps
a bit optimistic to say that services in energy
will start in about three, four, five years. However, it’s a lot
cheaper to provide energy to the space station and
to other kinds of things we have up there than
to rely on batteries. So I think this is an additional
possibility that I see coming. Now, what’s my vision
for the future? It has to be consistent
with economic and political realities. Has to be acceptable to
global village inhabitants, and actionable by industry
and as a decision-makers in government. So that is a very quick journey
into space looking for power. And I’ll be delighted to try and
answer some of your questions. [APPLAUSE] YOUNG: Thank you, Peter. Questions for Dr. Glaser? AUDIENCE: Hi, Peter. GLASER: Hi. AUDIENCE: You made a very good
case for the solar energy. I mean, you can’t carry fuel. But how does it compare to
ground-collected solar energy? GLASER: Okay. That’s a very good question. Let me say I am one of the
biggest supporters of utilizing as much solar energy on
the ground and renewables. I served as president of the
International Solar Energy Society, and therefore,
I’m impartial– whatever we can do in the ground,
I think we have to do. There’s a problem. On the ground, it’s a
one-shift operation. In space, it’s a
three-shift operation. In other words, the sun
shines there continuously. On the ground, we have
not only day and night, but weather conditions. And that makes it difficult for
the kind of large-scale power production that we have in mind. We should do all we can
on the small scale thing. Hot water heaters on
the roofs, et cetera. Whatever we can do on the
ground will be fabulous. But on the bigger
scheme of things, it will not be enough to replace
the fuels that we now use. AUDIENCE: Are there any
current application areas for microwave power
transmission, say, land, point-to-point on land, that
will drive the development of these technologies? Because they’re
currently economically– GLASER: I’m delighted
you asked the question. We have worked with
the state of Alaska, because they have places
where they want to beam power that-a-way, because
the cost of laying power cables across inlets
and so on is very expensive. And we have identified this
as a very interesting thing. And if you go to the University
of Alaska at Fairbanks, you will find that they have
taken them all the equipment that NASA had at
Goldstone, which we used, and transported it
there for exactly that purpose. And then engaged in finding
out, where does it make sense? For example, the native
population wants power. And to get power to them
is exceedingly difficult. So that’s underway. It’s a very interesting
possibility. AUDIENCE: What’s the
main disadvantage of this method [INAUDIBLE]? Everything you say, the
advantage, but disadvantage. GLASER: The disadvantage is
that you can’t do it next week. We have to have a
number of things going. I’ve discussed primarily
the system itself. Now, I have not discussed,
how do we get there from here? As long as it costs
us a fortune per pound to lift things into
geosynchronous orbit, this will not be a
good way of going. I’m convinced that there are
better ways of lift things– materials from the
Earth into orbit. One that I have worked on
is magnetic acceleration. And most of the stuff
I have shown you can withstand 10,000 Gs. So that’s one aspect. We have to change our view
of how we place material into orbit. The second. We cannot have astronauts,
as skilled as they may be– and my friends doing– these wrenches, and
hammers, and screwdrivers putting this together. The only way I think this can be
done, if you look at the scale, is by having robots. And robotic assembly, we’ve
learned it on the ground. Go to any large
assembly plant, you don’t see many people around. It’s done robotically. People are still required
to guide the robots. Basically, this is something
that we will have to learn. Again, we have started to
look at the robotic assembly in space. Can you imagine what it took
to assemble the International Space Station? The risks that astronauts had? This is where we have to learn
how to do it robotically. I believe it is possible, and
there are people studying it. AUDIENCE: If you were going to
do it today, what kind of film would you use for
the collection? GLASER: I’m sorry? AUDIENCE: What kind of
solar cell would you use? GLASER: Oh. Well, my preference is
gallium arsenide cells, cadmium telluride. A number of very
good materials which you can use in various
thin film layers so that the mass of that stuff– NASA in the SPS references,
believe it or not– tried to talk them
out of it– used crystalline
single-crystal silicon solar cells, which
was not the way to go because they’re
thick, and heavy, and so on. Thin film cells, which you
already can see– for example, I had a discussion with a man
from the Ioffe Institute– I don’t know if that means
something– in Leningrad. They’re the National
Renewable Energy Lab equivalent in Russia. And they have
developed solar cells which are about the size
of the nail on my pinky which are 25% efficient. And there’s hardly
anything there. And they use a concentrator. So there are novel ways
to utilize thin film cells at hardly incomparable
to what we now use. And I believe those are
the kind of developments that are in the laboratory now,
and will eventually be applied. AUDIENCE: Jay
Forrester here in MIT developed a model
of world dynamics. And that was
developed [INAUDIBLE] by [INAUDIBLE],, so forth,
and beyond limits [INAUDIBLE] and so forth. Now, you coordinated the
project with his model. Have you– into the
one system, [INAUDIBLE] take the variables [INAUDIBLE]
model, put it into his model, and see whether the world
will go into a crisis? He’s seeing a key crisis. It’s an exponential growth in
population [INAUDIBLE] food and so forth. And he’s [INAUDIBLE] occurring
later in the 21st century. GLASER: I’m familiar with this,
and I fully agree with it. And I believe the
only way that we can reduce population
growth is if you study the American system
of population growth. At higher living
standards, you don’t have to have large
families because you’re assured that the one or
two are enough for you to have people who will take
care of you in the old age. And I think that these
models are very important. The inputs that they can
get– and I would suggest, for example, from the NASA
people and the fresh look study– would be very
important to integrate, because I’m a
technical optimist, and I believe that there is,
within our collective brains, enough new idea that we can do
all these things without seeing the end of the world. AUDIENCE: Yeah. I’d like to start off by saying,
been a big fan of solar power satellite concept since I
was maybe 12 years old, so [INAUDIBLE] for a long time. But I think you point out really
well the two major obstacles, which are the launch costs
and the construction costs. But I think you downplayed the
difficulty of robotic assembly in an unstructured
environment such as space. Sure, we have lots of
things on the ground that use robotics in factories,
which are very, very structured environments. So I just wondered if you had
a little bit more to say about, do you really think
that biotechnology is going to advance to the point
where we could build something 20 kilometers large– GLASER: Well, actually, I
believe, to some extent, it will. But there is a limit to this. And I don’t believe having
this in orbit around the Earth is the right place at all. You saw the slides that
I’ve shown to convince you that we should go back on–
look at the moon as a place to put these for a
number of reasons. And the primary one is we
have the materials there. The cost of materials– they’re the same kind of
materials we have on Earth. And therefore, we can
establish the materials that we need up there and have
the factories to make them. We don’t have to have these
enormous heavy-lift launch vehicles that NASA
was thinking about. And I believe that there,
the assembly, again, is a lot easier than in orbit. And that the robots may be
required for certain things to get us to that
stage, but eventually, I think being on the moon
will be the answer, because we’re on lunar
firma, not just terra firma. AUDIENCE: And you don’t
feel that the presence of d in the denominator of
the efficiency equation is– GLASER: I don’t think so. I think we would
probably have a mirror rotating in Earth’s
position, which would allow us to do without the rotation. The mirror itself
then deflects– AUDIENCE: I’m just thinking of
your equation, the square root of the product of the two
areas divided by lambda d, and the d is a very large moon. Or is that the– GLASER: No, that’s
the distance, yeah. YOUNG: Let’s make this
one last question. AUDIENCE: Really, the
[INAUDIBLE] question [INAUDIBLE] question. Are there any companies
or places in industry that you know of that are
trying to bootstrap the process, since this is obviously
very expensive, and you can’t expect
governments to fund anything until there’s a
major energy crisis. GLASER: Well, at
this point, it’s primarily still NASA which is– now, in other countries,
it’s the government as well. And today– and I didn’t
mention that– the Chinese are very interested. The Europeans, the Japanese,
the Russians, the Ukrainians. If you want to be at a
meeting, well, the next– we had one in
Tokyo on January 9. We had one on
Reunion Island, which was organized by CNES,
the French space agency. And if you know, that’s
in the Indian Ocean, because they want
to use it there. And we have another one
coming up at the Space Studies Institute in May. And [INAUDIBLE],,
they devoted to this. So I think there’s
a lot of people who are now involved in it. And hopefully,
the various people like yourself come up with
new ideas, and better ideas, than we have had so far. YOUNG: Thank you. Let me, before closing,
just introduce three people. We’re pleased to have Dr.
Hal [INAUDIBLE] with us. Hal is a former [INAUDIBLE],,
and he’s director of our sister institution, the Center for
Commercial Development of Space at Houston. Pete Young, with the
Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, is
the associate director of Space [INAUDIBLE]
Space Grant, and was responsible for inviting
Dr. Glaser to be with us today. And Helen Howards in
the back of the room. Raise your hand, Helen. Helen is the coordinator for
the Masteries of Spacecraft Consortium, and as many
of you get to the stages where you are interested
in either applying for [INAUDIBLE] or fellowship
applications to spacecraft, you will come into
contact with Helen, who also is responsible
for the refreshments that we’ll be sharing with
Dr. Glaser in a few moments. I have this certificate of
appreciation for Dr. Glaser, the 10th annual public lecture
for his lecture on space solar power and energy
supply system for Earth. Thank you. GLASER: Thank you. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Thank you. Thank you very much.

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