Although the individual technologies for SBSP have been produced, tested, and used in other application areas, the overall system has not been integrated to date. The company's prototype will be the first of its kind. Accordingly, there is a risk that assembling the overall system may prove to be more technically difficult and costlier than originally anticipated.
Space Energy will also require clearances from numerous governmental and worldwide agencies, such as the FCC for transmitting radio frequencies from satellites to ground-based receivers. This type of clearance is usually composed of a specific spectrum allocation for transmission, as well as criteria for satellite-based radio frequency intensity. The UN also has some collaborative oversight function via the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPOUS). The company plans to work closely with entities affiliated with COPOUS to obtain adequate orbital slots for its commercial satellites, but there is no assurance that the desired orbital allocations will be available.
The core science involved in Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP) is proven, but a number of technical challenges are yet to be overcome. These include:
The aerospace industry has suggested many solutions to these problems. Until proven at a global scale, however, they remain theoretical---underscoring the importance of being first to market.
- Improving launch capabilities and capacity
- Assembly of the full satellite in space
- Power transmission of this scale
- Managing space debris
- Managing solar winds
There are commercial challenges and risks. These include:
- Obtaining all required regulatory permits and approvals
- Competition from new sources of energy or larger, better financed companies or governments that could enter the SBSP arena
- Threats of cost overrun, time overrun and potential failure
To see a more detailed response to all of the above listed challenges please view Space Energy's discovery presentation