The University of Surrey and Space Power are tackling the problem of powering satellites in Low Earth Orbit. It happened during their eclipse period when they cannot see the sun. The joint team will develop new technology by collaborating on a space infrastructure project.
It will use lasers to beam solar power from satellites under solar illumination to small satellites orbiting closer to Earth during eclipse. The wireless, laser-based power beaming prototype will be the first developed outside of governmental organizations. It is aiming for commercialisation by 2025.
Wireless power beaming is a critical and disruptive technology for space infrastructure. It will provide auxiliary power to increase the baseline efficiency of small satellites in LEO. The technical side of the project will use the highly specialized laser laboratories. It will also use optical systems.
This system has been developed at the University of Surrey’s Department of Physics and Advanced Technology Institute. This is world leaders in the development and implementation of laser and photovoltaic-based technologies. The first Space Power product will be designed as a plug-and-play system for satellite manufacturers. They can include it in their offering to their LEO constellation customers.
This new technology will enable small satellites to function all the time. As we are finding more ambitious and useful tasks for small satellites, the problem is growing. The project is part of the £7.4 million national SPRINT program. This program provides access to university space expertise and facilities. It helps businesses through the commercial exploitation of space data and technologies.
The power beaming prototype work follows on from an initial feasibility study by Space Power and the University of Surrey. The laser transmission was funded through the SME Innovation Voucher scheme. Scientists will investigate and verify the efficiency benefits of laser-based power beaming. They will develop the new technology. They will obtain data to enable them to design a prototype for small satellites in space.