You are on page 1of 25

NAIC CODE #54172

By: Shawn Paul Boike, President of: Insta-Grid Co. (DUNS#962375700)

Dr. David Hyland, Emeritus Professor of: Texas A & M University

Business Model for Commercializing of Mars Relay Services


This is our Industrial & Universities response to for how NASA can sustain Mars relay infrastructure, consist-
ing of orbiters capable of providing standardized telecommunication services for rovers and landers on the
martian surface, in the martian atmosphere, or in Mars orbit. Using mass production techniques for satellite
structure, power & antenna relays. The abundant supply of fusion-based energy produced by the sun still re-
mains to be efficiently harvested. The collection of solar radiation in space could potentially be an order-of-
magnitude more effective than ground-based technology because in space, solar insulation is continuous and
un-attenuated by the atmosphere. These potential advantages have motivated efforts to design space solar
power systems since the early 1960s. Reference 2 gives a timely and thorough review of previously proposed
designs. In the early 1960 NASA, ATT & Bell made a huge inflatable balloon communication satellite called
ECHO, we took this concept to new construction for absorbing solar energy and integrated communication
for delivery of both signals & energy, we call it the Power-StarTM.


Our new business approach to providing NASA’s Relays to Mars, different than the Big 5 Aerospace Corpo-
rations (Boeing, Honeywell, Northrop-Grumman, Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon) approach we integrate the
Best of all World’s for Fast, Economic advantages & delivery. This Power-StarTM System is Patent Pending
to use the best of old and the best of new with mass produced satellite integrated systems for its own power
and rectenna system. The Power-StarTM system shall deliver at and above all data acquisition volumes and
speeds listed in the RFI by communizing & modularization for expansion growth guaranteed. Meet and ex-
ceed all frequencies & bandwidths with the addition of modular and multi-tiered, parallel tunable channels
listed in the RFI.
Best of all, most (80%) financials will be commercially funded by private investment firms & Venture Capi-
talists. We deliver all relay requirements and have added commercial telecomm services additional service is
that it is an Energy from Space delivery system. The PowerStar delivery system can transmit energy directly
to the space transport vehicle going to Mars. Understanding this allows NASA a new option on getting to
Mars or even further, just think of having >25K times more power than the sun being provided to the electric
propulsion can get you there faster & cheaper.

Proposed System Overview:
1. Complete Full System Simulation in 3D with CAD, CAE, CFD, Thermals, E3, etc…
2. Common Satellite Design & Mass Production concept similar to NASA’s proven ECHO 1
3. 5 Satellite Production; 4 in NEO & 1 Command & Control Sat in Outer GEO
4. All 5 are common Multi-Purpose for Data, Communications Relay & Power Transfer Sat.
5. Full Launch Capability details are explained below

Benefits to NASA & taxpayers:
• 50% Faster & cheaper development with improved reliability in Satellite Production
• Additional Capabilities for added Relay Data & Power aids Future Missions & Growth
• Integrating the Best Teams, Technologies & Investors to Lower NASA’s Burden
• Only 20% Commitment funding by NASA full ROI within 7 years & Profit Making then
• Team Consists of Program Team, Technical & Private Investors, new LLC prior to award.

The proposed financial approach is to benefit NASA & the US taxpayers with as much value and less burden
as feasible. We will be using Private Investors and Venture Capitalist for 80% program costs and NASA to
fund 20% with a 7-year complete ROI, providing profit from onward for decades. The Team will have a new
LLC prior to program award includes our Program Leadership, investors have an on-board Audit & Payout
Mgr, we will hire a NASA Mgr which gained their PHD under Dr. David Hyland 4 decades as Professor. The
full manufacturing will be from one of the Big 5 based on a bid package from them or maybe from foreign
allies. We discourage the big 5 leading us because over 3 decades experience working at them has shown
their Corporate Mgt. can drain a program of Time & Money with little value to show for it (examples; FCS,
JSF, A12, NASP, SDI, etc).

Team Mates on Program:

• Boeing’s Robert Friend & their Space Electric Propulsion System which can gain power
from us.

• Northrop’s new business Director Alberto Conti and their open-minded approach.

• Dr. Paul Werbos (NSF), Dr. John Mankins (NASA), Dr. Neha Satak (Uof FL), Dr. Gary
Barnhard (UN) & other which provide High Value Leverage Asset(s) or “Best bang for the
• Guy Webster 818-354-6278, Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
• Nancy Neal Jones 301-286-0039, Goddard Space Flight Center,

The ROM estimated costs are listed below:
Financial ROM Proposed Approach:
1. Full Common Satellite System $100M x 5 Satellites Avg.: $500M
2. Launch/Delivery & Integration Systems $100M each: $500M
3. Complete MARS Power-StarTM System w/developments: $1 Billion
4. Private Investors & Venture Capitalists Funds: $800M (80%)
5. NASA’s Commitment with a 7 Year ROI & then Profit: $200M (20%)

Program Schedule/Timeline: 42 Months + 10 Month Launches
a) Phase 1 Prelim Design & Development Completion
with 20% Funds @ startup 12 Months (20% Funds)
b) Phase 2 Eng. Tooling & Mfg Development with 30% Funds: 18 Months (30% Funds)
c) Phase 3 Full Scale Production, Test & Eval. & Cert.: 12 Months (25% Funds)
d) Phase 4 Launch/Delivery Schedule every 2 months: 10 Months (25% Funds)
Full Delivery System Acquisition in Service by: 52 Months (less than 4 ½ Years)

Commercial Relay Services, for Odyssey & MRO Relay plus growth capability:

• Our Relay Services are suggested a 20% deposit from NASA with full ROI within 7 years & profit
there-after. Reason for deposit/partial investment is because, political change & budget uncertainty
makes NASA’s interests to be served properly and proving to investors tangibility (skin in the game).
• Mars Landers and rovers are highly constrained in mass, volume, and power an existing significant
limitation is in the data rates and data volumes that can be communicated on the direct link between
the Mars surface spacecraft and Earth.
• At large Earth-Mars distances, the Curiosity Rover’s X-band direct-to-Earth (DTE) link operates at
data rates of less than 500 bps when communicating to a Deep Space Network 34m antenna.
• Mars Exploration Program (MEP) has employed a strategy of including a proximity-link telecommu-
nication relay payload on each of its Mars science orbiters. Currently, operating in the UHF band
(390–450 MHz).
• Curiosity rover operating at rates of up to 2 Mb/s, and data volumes average over 500 Mb/sol (or mar-
tian day). Similar relay support has been provided to the prior Spirit rover and Phoenix Lander mis-
• Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft at the Moon to Earth, with
download rates of 622 megabits per second (Mbps).
• We shall demonstrate an error-free data upload rate of 20 Mbps transmitted from the primary ground
station in New Mexico to the spacecraft orbiting the Moon.
• Although No NASA Mars science orbiters are currently manifested beyond MAVEN, we shall be
modular & flexible enough to allow growth into these upgrades.
• We shall accommodate the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft, Relay
Radio on Mars.

This radio hardware, the Electra UHF Transceiver on NASA's MAVEN mission to Mars, is designed to provide communication relay support
for robots on the surface of Mars.

Synergies with other commercial Mars interests for cost-sharing:
As described, in the following PowerStar system description the 80/20 cost sharing and profit sharing will
be further understood. Please read the following:

Power-StarTM: APPROACH TO: MARS Advanced relay system

Shawn Boike, David C. Hyland* & Insta-Grid Team

This new business model is response to NASA’s Request For Information (RFI) for how they might sustain Mars relay
infrastructure, consisting of orbiters capable of providing standardized telecommunication services for rovers and landers
on the martian surface, in the martian atmosphere, or in Mars orbit. Using mass production techniques for satellite struc-
ture, power & antenna relays. Space Solar Power also known as: Energy From Space refers to the concept of a space
system that collects solar power via photovoltaics and transmits it to ground collection stations using visible or micro-
wave radiation. Previous system designs developed over the past several decades entail gigantic structures with many
moving parts and require on-orbit infrastructure and in-space construction. Here we combine very new and very old
technologies to form a design that has no moving parts, requires no in-space construction and can be packaged in many
existing launch vehicle payload fairings.

This is our Industrial & Universities response to NASA’s Request For Information (RFI) for how they might
sustain Mars relay infrastructure, consisting of orbiters capable of providing standardized telecommunication
services for rovers and landers on the martian surface, in the martian atmosphere, or in Mars orbit. Using
mass production techniques for satellite structure, power & antenna relays. The abundant supply of fusion-
based energy produced by the sun remains to be efficiently harvested. The collection of solar radiation in
space could potentially be an order-of-magnitude more effective than ground-based technology because in
space, solar insolation is continuous and un-attenuated by the atmosphere. These potential advantages have

*Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Aerospace Engineering Department, Texas A&M University, TAMU 3141, Collage Station
Texas 77843.

motivated efforts to design space solar power systems since the early 1960s. Reference 2 gives a timely and
thorough review of previously proposed designs.
A solar power system consists of a space segment that collects solar energy, converts the energy into radiation
(typically in a wavelength band to which the atmosphere is mostly transparent), then transmits the radiation to
a ground facility that converts the radiation into electrical power. Since the ground-based power collection
technology is well developed, we concentrate here on the space segment, called the Solar Power Satellite(s)
(SPS). Moreover, the method of solar energy collection assumed here is photovoltaic, and the power transmis-
sion to the ground is chosen to be microwave radiation with wavelengths near 10cm.
Within the above restrictions, there are a wide variety of SPS design concepts. All previous approaches for
SPS in this category involve very large, articulated structures, that must be assembled (in most cases robot-
ically) in space and require many launches of the component parts into orbit (typically geostationary orbit) 1,2.
These characteristics necessitate very large initial investments and technology developments to field an opera-
tional system. An example for comparison that is fairly representative of previous concepts is the Naval Re-
search Lab, 5MW SSP design1. Figure 1 shows a summary of this concept. We choose this for later compari-
son because it resulted from a quantitatively complete engineering design as well as a financial analysis. As
can be seen from the Figure, this involves two 18,300 square meter solar arrays and a one-kilometer diameter
microwave antenna. Rotating relay mirrors direct energy into the solar arrays, while the remainder of the
structure is nadir pointing. The study assumed an end-to-end efficiency of ten percent and sought a First Rev-
enue Unit design that could transmit 5 Megawatts of power. Typically, this type of design cannot be launched
by a single vehicle but must be assembled on-orbit by either human or robotic agents.

Figure 1. Summary of the characteristics for the NRL 5MW First Revenue Unit design

A significant improvement over previous effort is the SPS-ALPHA (Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily
Large Phased Array)2. The main structure of SPS-ALPHA does not have to be slewed to follow the sun di-
rection. The system is highly modular and good use is made of retro-directive phased array technology. A
sandwich design combines the solar arrays with the microwave transmitters such that high voltage, centralized
power distribution is avoided. On the other hand, there are perhaps thousands of rotating mirrors used to redi-
rect reflected sunlight onto the solar array, and the solar radiation redirection functions and photovoltaic ra-
diation functions are segregated into different, very large structures. The very large structure cannot be
launched except through many launch vehicles, and the system must be assembled on-orbit via elaborate in-
frastructure, including advanced robotic technology. Thus, although a significant step forward, the concept
interposes the obstacle of a huge initial investment to achieve a first revenue system.
The design concept discussed here carries modularity and multiple functionality several steps further. The
concept combines a technology that is so new it is often overlooked with a technology that is so old it is al-
most forgotten. The new technology is the printing (via photolithography, ink-jet processes, etc.) of solar cells
interspersed with microwave patch antennas on thin, flexible sheets (Mylar, Kapton, paper, fabric, etc.). The
printed sheets are produced in mass quantities. The old technology is that of the Echo satellites. Large, thin
sheets are assembled into a spherical balloon. For launch, the sphere is compactly packaged in a small con-
tainer that fits into the launch vehicle payload faring. Once on orbit a volatile material is made to sublimate to
provide the gas pressure for initial inflation. Metallic layers within the printed sheets are forced into yield to
provide rigidification and the Power-StarTM sphere is then evacuated. Electromagnetic propagation theory
shows us that a completely decentralized control algorithm allows us to coordinate the numerous (printed)
microwave antennas to transmit multiple beams to any desired ground-based power collection locations. The
system is a single, very simple structure and no slewing or mechanical motion is required. Further, the power
distribution technique involves power transmission within the “skin” only over distances of a few centime-
ters. Thus, power transference is localized and requires neither complex and high voltage power distribution
and management systems nor large power-conducting wires.
The following sections describe these features in some detail and we substantiate that the system has no mov-
ing parts, requires no slewing or rotating elements, can be deployed from a single launch vehicle, is extremely
robust to component failures and is composed of material that can be manufactured in great quantity.

The very new and rapidly advancing element of Power-StarTM technology is illustrated in Figure 2. Large
scale production of inexpensive solar arrays is well underway. Printed microwave antennas are also well
known and are being advanced at a rapid rate for numerous communication applications. Solar-Microwave
FabricTM combines these two components on the surface of the same flexible substrate. The lower part of Fig-
ure 2 illustrates a typical cross-section. The solar cells and patch antennas are interspersed (without overlap-
ping) with a randomized tessellation in order to eliminate grating lobes. This pattern is printed on what is to
become the exterior surface of the substrate sheet or “skin”. In the full system, there may also be an array
composed solely of microwave transceivers (dual transmitters and receivers) printed on the opposite surface
(due to become the interior surface of the sphere). Patch antennas on the exterior surface draw power from
half of the immediately adjacent solar cells (a few centimeters distance) or from the interior transceivers,
through the thickness of the skin. Details of power transfer are described in the Intra-Satellite Power Distri-
bution sub-section below. Besides the short power leads there is a grid of conducting wires for electrical
ground and for rigidizing the sphere prior to evacuation. In this section we discuss printed solar cells, printed
microwave antennas and choice of the substrate material.

Printed Solar Cells
Presently, there is a range of solar cell printing technologies, where rapid manufacturability is traded off
against cell efficiency. A notable example is that reported in Reference 3. The Victorian Organic Solar Cell
Consortium has demonstrated the capability to produce printed solar arrays at speeds of up to ten meters per
minute, or one cell every two seconds. Up to 30cm wide, these cells produce 10-15 watts of power per square
meter per square meter under maximum ground insolation. Substrates include paper-thin flexible plastic or
steel. As illustrated in Figure 3, the cells combine various organic materials to capture power from different
parts of the solar spectrum.

Printed Solar Arrays
The New Printed Patch An-

Microwave Fabric


Solar cell Solar cell

connectors Conductive coating
Substrate layer

Figure 2. Illustration of the basic concept of the Solar-Microwave FabricTM.

Figure 3. Composition of the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium.
In comparison, MIT solar cells4 use an ink-jet process to print cells on paper. Efficiency for most designs is
presently 1% to 2%. However, 4% is a near-term goal and it is quite reasonable to anticipate 5 to 10% in the
future. As a baseline we can say that 2% efficiency with rapid fabrication ability is the current capability.

Printed Microwave Patch Antennas
Antennas can be inkjet printed onto many flexible materials, even including cotton-polyester Multiple print-
ing layers can be used to increase efficiency. As illustrated in Figure 4, a microwave patch antenna consists of
a metal “patch” mounted on a grounded, dielectric substrate.

Figure 4. The basic configuration of a microwave patch antenna.
The dielectric provides a resonant cavity to amplify the transmitted signal. Since L is the resonant dimension,
we must have:
L= 2 (1)
Where  is the operating wavelength? W is usually chosen as 1.5L to get higher bandwidth, but we shall as-
sume W = L =  2 here. The practical printing resolution is 15 microns and is quite sufficient to satisfy Equa-
tion (1) to sufficient accuracy. Table 1 shows a survey of performance statistics for existing patch antennas 5.
Efficiencies of up to 79% are presently attainable.
Table 1. Performance characteristics of various printed patch antennas.
Substrate Height Etched patch on Inkjet Patch Inkjet Patch Inkjet Patch
in mm FR45 substrate (two layers of (one layer of (two layers of
ink) glued on ink) on felt ink) on felt
BW = Bandwidth
FR45 substrate
Patch size(mm) 37.4 x 28.1 37.4 x 28.1 47.7 x 36.9 47.7 x 36.9
Substrate height 1.6 1.6 1.9 1.9
Frequency 2.378 2.480 2.405 2.505
SII (dB) -13.39 -14.89 -10.05 -9.95
10 dB BW 22.5 24.5 17.5 N/A
Directivity (dBi) 7.39 7.55 8.38 8.72
Gain (dBi) 6.37 5.09 4.02 5.98
Efficiency (%) 79 57 37 53

Substrate Material
Although solar cells and patch antennas have been printed on a wide variety of materials, we have focused on
two materials that have the closest connection to Echo satellite technology. The foremost, and the one with
the most heritage, is Mylar, a polyester film made from resin Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET). This material
retains its full mechanical capabilities at temperatures ranging from -70 C to 150 0C. Its melting point is 254
C. Its volumetric density is 1390 kg/m3. An attractive alternative is Kapton, an organic polymeric material
that, effectively does not melt or burn and functions well at temperatures ranging from -269 C to 400 0C. At

1420 kg/m3, its volumetric density is slightly larger that that of Mylar. Continuing studies will explore print-
compatible materials with adequate tear resistance and minimum density.

Sheets of the multi-functional fabric described in the previous section are cut into gores (sectors of a sphere)
and the several gores are assembled to form a spherical balloon (once inflated). Beyond this point, the Power-
StarTM system makes full use of Echo satellite technology.

Project Echo6 was the first passive communications satellite experiment. Each of the two satellites were de-
signed as a passive reflector of microwave signal, and each was a metalized PET film balloon satellite. Soon
after the launch vehicle failure of Echo 1 in 1960, the 30.5m diameter Echo 1A was successfully placed in
orbit by a Thor-Delta vehicle in the same year. It reentered Earth's atmosphere, burning up on May 24,
1968. Following successful operation of Echo 1A, on January 25, 1964, the 41.1m diameter Echo 2 was suc-
cessfully deployed on orbit. Echo 2 reentered Earth's atmosphere and burned up on June 7, 1969.


(c) (d) (e)

Figure 5. Various aspects of Echo satellite technology: (a) Echo 1A stowage canister; (b) Canister closed; (c) Fold-
ed sub-scale prototype; (d) Inflated sub-scale prototype; (e) Echo 2 during inflation testing.

Figure 5 shows various aspects of the Echo technology. The satellites were made of 12.7 m thick biaxially
oriented PET (Mylar) film, coated with a vapor deposited 0.2m layer of aluminum (to provide RF reflectivi-
ty). Special folding techniques were devised to minimize the stowed volume (see Figure 5(c) and 5(d)). This
is an important feature since finite material strength sets a lower limit to radii of curvature in bending so that
any fold of a thin sheet introduces voids that reduce packing efficiency. The folded balloons for both space-
craft could be stowed for launch in small spherical canisters (See Figure 5(a) and 5(b)). In particular, the
30.5m diameter inflated sphere of Echo 1A was stowed in a 0.71m seamed spherical canister.

Once on-orbit, the small canisters were opened, and the balloons were inflated to form two of the largest and
visible artificial satellites ever created (Figure 5(e)). At launch, the Echo 1A balloon mass was 71.212 kg
which included 15.12 kg of sublimating powders of two types7: anthraquinone, and benzoic acid. These coat-
ed the interior surface of Echo 1A, and sublimated once the balloon was exposed to the sun. On orbit, only
several pounds of gas pressure were all that was required to inflate the sphere and maintain its shape.

Echo 2 used a refined inflation system to improve the balloon's smoothness and sphericity. In this
case, a number of “pillows” containing sublimating powder were stored flattened against the interior
surface of the balloon. See Figure 6 for the pillow inflation process. Once exposed to the heat from
the sun, the pillows inflate, and vent gas through perforations in their surface, thereby inflating the rest of the
satellite. This deployment process prevents the gas from getting trapped in pockets and producing deleteri-
ous stress concentrations. In the Power-StarTM a copper grid (for electrical ground) is embedded in the skin.
This is designed to yield at the inflation pressure. Like the aluminum coating in the Echo 2 satellite, the yield-
ed grid provides rigidification of the structure, eliminating the need to sustain gas pressure. One of the pillows
is designed to rupture the outer surface of the balloon after deployment, allowing the Power-StarTM to release
excess gas once the copper grid has just begun to yield. Once fully deployed the balloon is an evacuated shell.
See Reference 8 for on-orbit video of Echo 2 inflation.

Figure 6. Echo 2 inflation system “pillows”. Top: stowed configuration; Bottom: Pillow out-gassing from its per-

In this section we describe how the old and new elements of the Power-StarTM system are combined and coor-
dinated to work together once the system is launched and deployed. Figure 7 sketches the overall composition
and method of operation.

Figure 7. Overall Power-StarTM operation once deployed
The exterior surface of the sphere is printed with solar cells and microwave transmitters (Figure 7, lower
right), where the placement of transmitters is somewhat randomized to prevent grating lobes (see below).
There are power connectors between each transmitter and a subset of the immediately adjoining solar cells
(Figure 7, top, center, red lines in the cross-section). Beneath the exterior coating is the substrate layer (gray
band in the Figure) with an embedded copper grid (orange lines in the Figure) for electrical ground and rigidi-
fication. The interior surface of the substrate is coated solely with transceivers (transmitter/receivers, blue
layer on the bottom of the cross-section). There are power connections through the thickness of the skin from
the internal transceivers and the immediately proximate external transmitters. Power connections in the skin
are very short (a few centimeters) and the power collection and transmission devices are on a microscopic
scale, such that we anticipate an eventual halving of the Echo skin thickness to ~6 m.
Power is received at several locations on the ground by arrays of rectifying antennas (rectennas). At the loca-
tion of each rectenna, a low-power microwave beacon is placed. At each patch antenna a local microprocessor
records the beacon radiation that the patch receives; records the radiation wave form; amplifies the waveform
and emits it back in reverse time (or, equivalently with conjugate phase). As will be elaborated below, this
completely decentralized transmitter control scheme produces transmitted radiation that, given the size and
shape of the Power-Star, optimally matches desired power distribution on the ground. Note that the system
can absorb power from the sun and transmit power in any other direction without the need for slewing or me-
chanical motions. The system works with electrons and photons and has no moving parts.
In the next two subheadings, we discuss further details of the power transmission control, and the specific
processes for transferring collected solar power within and across the sphere.
Power Beam Control
It is a rigorous result in electromagnetic propagation that the beacon-based control that coordinates the nu-
merous transmitters as described above optimally approximates, in a mean-square sense, the desired power
distribution on the ground. This power delivery scheme is a generalization of retro-directive beam technology
and has been applied to many areas. For example, Reference 9 discussed its application to acoustics for medi-
cal technology.
Indeed, the ground distribution actually produced is the spatial convolution of the desired distribution (as set
by some pattern of beacons) with the Power-Star aperture point-spread function (PSF), which is essentially
the tightest, most concentrated beam that the total configuration of transmitters can produce. This PSF func-
tion depends on the size, shape and distribution of the transmitters on the external surface of the Power-Star.
Thus, if the beacons can be approximated by point sources, then the ground distribution consists of several
PSF “spots”, each centered at one of the beacon locations.
Recording the beacon signals, then amplifying them and playing them back in reverse time occur concurrent-
ly. To simplify the explanation, we illustrate these steps separately. First, consider the beacon propagation,
illustrated in Figure 8 by means of a simple two-dimensional wave propagation simulator. Here there are three
approximately point sources (that is, a single pixel in extent) unevenly distributed along the vertical line to the
left, representing the ground plane. The circular region to the right represents the Power-Star sphere. In part
(a), radiation commences with a widening interference pattern. Then (part (b)), each pixel on the circumfer-
ence of the circle records the time signal of the field amplitude measured at its location. Figure 9 shows what
happens when each pixel (representing a single patch transmitter) transmits the signal it recorded in reverse
time. In part (a), note the converging wave fronts of the initial field amplitude. In part (b) Of the Figure, we
see three concentrated spots of intensity, centered at the beacon locations. These spots represent the PSF dis-
tributions and are broader than the beacons. The broader width of the ground plane spots is mainly propor-
tional to the overall size of the Power-Star. The results also illustrate that, despite the usual assumption that
phased arrays are planar, the accuracy with which a desired ground distribution is duplicated is mostly de-
pendent on size, not on shape. This spherical phased arrays work well.
Intra-Satellite Power Distribution
Since the directions of the sun and the beacons are not coincident, a mechanism for distributing power within
the satellite is needed. Figure 10 shows the geometry of irradiation from the sun and the beacons, where we
assume that the angular separation of beacons is small so that a single, representative beacon direction may be
considered. The quantity  is the angle between the sun direction and the beacon direction. Recall that the
interior surface of the sphere is coated with transceivers operating at a higher frequency (to reduce diffraction
effects). These transceivers are to be oriented so that the resonant axes of each diametrically opposite pair are
As illustrated in Figure 10, the surface of the sphere is divided into four sectors: The sector exposed to both
sunlight and beacon radiation (denoted by S , B ); that receiving beacon radiation but no sunlight ( S% , B ); that
exposed to sunlight but not beacon ( S , B%), and the region where neither sun nor beacon are visible ( S%% , B ).
Clearly, sectors ( S%, B ), and ( S , B%) are mirror images, such that each point on ( S%, B ) has a diametrically oppo-
site point on ( S , B%), and vice-versa. The same remark pertains to ( S , B ), and ( S%%
, B ). The sector that a particu-
lar transmitter and its adjacent solar cells are located is indicated by their output signals. Given this infor-
mation, the power supply


Figure 8. Initial Propagation of beacon radiation. (a) Radiation commences, (b) Circular phased array records
beacon information.


Figure 9. Phased array propagates amplified beacon in reverse time. (a) Transmission commences, (b) Three con-
centrated spots, centered at the beacons appear on the ground plane.

Figure 10. Geometry of the power distribution system. Angle  denotes the angle between the directions to the sun
and a beacon.
algorithm is indicated in Table 2. Note that no processing is needed for this algorithm. In essence, the trans-
mitters that need to be active because they receive a beacon signal are powered by either the proximate solar
cells or by the proximate internal transceivers, whichever is actually producing power. No beacon signal
means the transmitter is blocked. Each transmitting antenna draws power from the solar cells in its immediate
vicinity (within a few centimeters), or through the thickness of the skin. Each transmitter receives just a few
Watts, so there are no high voltages or large wires. This localized architecture means robustness against par-
tial damage.
Table2. Power transfer algorithm
Sector Power Transfer
( S, B) External surface transmitter draws power from the adjacent solar cells

( S , B%) Solar cells transfer power through the skin to their immediately proximate in-
ternal surface transceivers. The internal transceivers emit power beams through
( )
the center of the sphere to fall on the internal transceivers in sector S%, B .

( S%, B ) Internal transceivers transfer received power through the skin to their immedi-
ately proximate external surface transmitters

( S%, B%) No action taken.

Having described the basic design of the satellite, we next consider the analysis of its performance character-
istics, viz. power transmitted to the ground, beam width, etc., under separate subheadings.
Power Transmitted

To begin, a geometrically regular arrangement of the patch antennas on the exterior surface would produce an
aperture PSF having, besides a main concentrated spot (the central lobe), several regularly spaced offset spots
(the grating lobes). This tends to have a disastrous effect on the accuracy with which a desired power distribu-
tion may be approximated, since the actually produced distribution is the convolution of the desired distribu-
tion and the PSF. However, a slight randomization of the transmitter antenna placements (that retains the
same average number of antennas per unit area) suffices to disburse the grating lobes so that the central lobe
alone remains the only power concentration in the emitted radiation. In this case, the main lobe is proportional
to the characteristic function (the Fourier transform) of the probability density function of patch antenna loca-
tions. For example, if the locations of all patch antennas are statistically independent Gaussian distributions,
( )
then the angular distribution of radiated power, P  produced by the entire phased array is:

v  DA   1
2   2s D 2 v 2 
P ( )    2 exp  − 
   (2)
 2 s       2

where  is the unit vector from the phased array to a point of observation, and where:
 = operating wavelength
DA = balloon diameter
s = average distance between the centers (3.a-d)
of neighboring patch antennas
L =W =  2
The last equation repeats the assumption made in the remarks under Figure 4 that the patch antennas are
roughly squares that are half a wavelength on a side. Note that the maximum value of  2s has to be unity;
in which case, patch antennas cover the entire exterior surface of the balloon, leaving no room for
the solar arrays. Thus, the phased array must be sparse, and of necessity s   2 .
Equation (2) is a reasonable approximation for many different antenna position probability distributions. Then
accordingly, the total power transmitted to the ground from the central lobe is:
v   2
Pt =  d 2 P ( )    Psa
 2s 
Psa = Total power input from the solar arrays (4.a,b)
and internal transceivers
Note that the factor appropriately reflects the sparse aperture theorem.

For a given s, the fraction of the frontal area occupied by the solar arrays is 1 − (  2s ) , therefore:

   2  
Psa = 1 −    DA2 eff Qs
  2s   4
 
eff = aggregate efficiency of solar arrays (5.a-c)
and patch antennas
QS = Solar insolation  1367 W m 2

The aggregate efficiency,  eff is a function of both the solar array and transmitter efficiencies and the
beacon-sun angle, . Assuming roughly the same efficiencies for the exterior and interior transmit-
ters, we have:

eff = 12 TS 1 + T2 + (1 − T2 ) cos  
  0,  ) (6.a-d)
S = Solar array efficiency
T = Transmitter efficiency
Combining Equations (4)-(6), we have in summary:

   2   2
Pt =   1 −    DA eff Qs
 2s    2s   4 (7.a,b)
eff = 12 TS 1 +  + (1 −  ) cos  

From this relation, it is clear that the optimal average spacing of the transmitters is soptimal =  2 .
This means that the surface area of the balloon is equally divided between the solar cells and trans-
mitters. Also, the total power to the ground becomes:
1   2
Pt max =  
  DA eff Qs 
 
4 4  (8.a,b)
eff = 1  1 +  + (1 −  ) cos  
2 2
2 T S  T T 
Note that the factor 1 arises from the sparseness of the array.

From Equation (8), we see that if the satellite is at geostationary altitude with the ground station beneath, the
power transmitted rises to a maximum at midnight (   1800 ) and declines to a minimum at noon (   0 ).
This conforms to the daily electrical power usage profile for street lighting of typical municipalities.
To see what Equation (8) predicts for power transmitted to the ground given current device capabilities, we let
 S = 2% and, consulting Table 1, set T = 79% . Figure 11 shows the ranges of transmitted power
(over all sun-beacon angles) for  S equal to 2% (current

Figure 11. Power transmitted as a function of balloon diameter for various values of the solar cell efficiency.
capability), and for 5%, 10%, and 25% , representing different stages of development, all as func-
tions of the balloon diameter. We see that even with the presently lowly capabilities of printed solar
cells, a one-kilometer balloon can deliver from 3 to 4 Megawatts – comparable to the design of Fig-
ure 1. Moreover, efficiency of ~4% is expected soon, in which case, a 1 km system gives ~6 to 10
MW. Printed cell technology is still in an early stage of development wherein cheap manufacturabil-
ity is paramount over cell efficiency. But one can expect a progression toward the efficiency levels
of presently “one-off” laboratory devices, where 25% is typical. In this case the 1km balloon might
be capable of 30 to 50MW. Compare this with the system of Reference 1.

Minimum Beam Width (Rectenna Size)
Common to all SPS concepts is the minimum beam width on the ground expressed, by use of Ray-
leigh’s angular resolution formula, as a function of wavelength, distance and transmitting aperture
diameter. In the present case this is modified slightly because the aperture is sparse, not filled. In ac-
cordance with the sparse aperture theorem (see also Equation (2)), the width of the central beam in
the system PSF is diminished by the factor of 2 . Therefore, the minimum width of the power con-
centration “spot” that can be put on the ground, x , is given by:
x = (1.1) 2
z = transmit distance (9.a,b)
(35, 786 km for GEO)

This sets the size of the rectenna. Assuming a geostationary orbit, Figure (12) shows the rectenna
diameter as a function of balloon diameter for various values of the operating wavelength. It is seen
that we have inordinately large (~5.5km for a 1km balloon) rectenna sizes for the nominal wave-
length of 10cm. This is not a problem peculiar to the Power-Star. Indeed, the PowerStar beam width
is smaller than any filled aperture concept. There are three principal avenues. The first is to decrease
the operating wavelength to, maybe, 1cm – thereby reducing the rectenna size to hundreds of meters
instead of kilometers. The second is to increase the aperture size to several kilometers. The third is to
reduce the transmit distance. This would entail a constellation of power collector Power-Stars in sun-
synchronous, lower orbits (~2000km) complemented by several relay satellites in lower inclination,
MEO orbits that take turns beaming power continuously to the rectennas. These tradeoffs must be
examined for any design concept and this effort is underway for the Power-Star.

Figure 12. Rectenna diameter (minimum spot size) as a function of balloon diameter for various values of the op-
erating wavelength.

Packaging for Launch
The Power-Star is to be folded compactly into a canister that can be accommodated in existing launch vehicle
payload fairings. We assume here that the stowed configuration is a sphere of diameter DS . If w denotes the
thickness of the skin, the total volume occupied by just the skin of the deployed balloon is  DA2 w . The small-
est stowed diameter is obtained when this volume is equal to  DS3 6 . However as remarked above, a thin
membrane folded many times has an external volume much in excess of just the volume of the material of
which it is composed. Thus, we characterize the folding system by the packing efficiency, peff  1 , so that
 DS3 6 =  DA2 wpeff , or:

DS = ( 6 peff wDA2 )

w = Skin thickness (10.a-c)
peff = Packing efficiency (  1)

The packing efficiency is difficult to calculate and depends upon the precise geometry of the folds, the skin
thickness, and the material properties. However, we shall take the Echo satellite characteristics as our guide.
Table 2 lists the Echo dimensions and the values of packing efficiency. These are quite close, so in the follow-
ing we use simply peff  3.0 .

Table 2. Dimensions and packing efficiencies for the Echo satellites.
Satellite DA , ( m ) DS , ( m ) w, (  m ) p eff

Echo 1 30.5 0.71 20.3* 3.16

Echo 2 41.1 1.04 36.0** 3.08
*Includes Mylar, metallic coating and sublimating power coating.
**Includes Mylar, metallic coating and average thickness due to pillows

Based on this value, Figure 13, shows the launch canister diameter as a function of the inflated balloon diame-
ter. Evidently, a one-kilometer Power-Star, the same size as the FRS design microwave antenna of Figure 1,
can be accommodated in several existing heavy-lift launch vehicles. In particular: the Delta Heavy (5.1 m di-
ameter fairing), the Ariane 5 (5.4m), the Minataur VI (5.71 m) & the new SpaceX Falcon 9 (Custom Fairing).
Aerodynamic Drag and Orbit Lifetime
As is the case with the Echo satellites, Power-Star would have a very low ballistic coefficient so that aerody-
namic effects can set limits on orbit altitude such that orbit lifetime is more than a few decades. To analyze
this situation, we assume an initially circular orbit. For lifetimes greater than 10 years, the lifetime as a func-
tion of the initial orbit radius of a circular orbit is nearly independent of the launch time relative to the solar
maxima or minima (see Reference 10). Thus, the orbit lifetime can be estimated using the average atmospher-
ic density as a function of altitude, as given by the U.S. Standard Atmosphere. Further we may assume small
drag forces such that the decaying orbit takes the form of a tight spiral with a slowly varying “instantaneous”
orbit radius.

Figure 13. Stowed diameter as a function of the inflated balloon diameter.
Then we have approximately that the orbit life time, t f , is:
R da 
tf = 
E Atm ( a) a
ai = Initial orbit radius
RE = Radius of the Earth (11.a-e)
 = Gravitational constant (GM) of the earth
 Atm ( a ) = Atmospheric density at orbit radius a
where  is the ballistic coefficient:

M = Power star mass =  DA2 w skin (12.a-c)
A = Frontal area = 4 D  2

 skin = Volumetric density of the skin
Thus, for the Power-Star and assuming free molecular flow ( CD  2 ), we get:

 = 2wskin (13)

Figure 14. Orbit lifetime as a function of initial orbit altitude.
which is just twice the areal density of the “skin” and independent of diameter. To get a conservative estimate
of orbit life, we assume the smallest practicable thickness, w = 0.006 mm . Then we have:

 = 2wskin = 2 (1390)( 0.006mm) = 0.01668 (14)

With the above assumptions, Equations (11) give a conservative estimate of the orbit lifetime as a function of
initial altitude as shown in Figure 14. The results indicate that a long lifetime is ensured by placing the Power-
Star at roughly 2000km or above. Thus, a MEO orbit or above is suitable for a long-term system. Note that
the de-orbit time function is independent of the diameter of the system and directly proportional to  , which
is approximately twice the areal density of the skin. Hence results for larger skin thicknesses can be obtained
from the Figure by multiplying the ordinate by the ratio of new to old thicknesses.

In this paper we have proposed a novel design concept for a Space Solar Power Satellite – the Power-StarTM.
With heritage dating back to Project Echo, this system is an inflatable balloon made of a thin, flexible skin
whereupon solar cells, and microwave patch antennas are printed via the most modern mass production tech-
nology. Power-StarTM operates with no moving parts and with no slewing or other mechanical motion. At
least up to 1km diameter, it requires no on-orbit manufacturing or construction. Advanced adaptive phased
array technique and insights from time-reversed acoustics, combined with low-amplitude beacons yield a
beam forming control algorithm that is entirely local to each patch antenna. The operation of the phased array
is decentralized and adaptive so that even if severely damaged, the system can retain some level of useful per-
formance. Power is regulated within the balloon such that transmission through the skin occurs within a few
centimeters at most, obviating the need for a centralized, high voltage power distribution system. The power
system permits solar power to be gathered from any angle and power to be beamed in any direction (s) with-
out slewing or structural deformation.
Preliminary performance calculations show that even with the low efficiencies of presently available printed
solar cells, a 1 km Power-Star can produce enough power for a First Revenue System. Using Echo technolo-
gy, a 1 km Power-Star can be packed for launch in several existing heavy-lift vehicles. Finally, despite its low

ballistic coefficient, the orbit lifetime is of the order of a century if the initial (circular orbit) altitude is greater
than approximately 2000km.

A Frontal area of the Power-Star
ai Initial orbit radius

CD Aerodynamic drag coefficient

DA Balloon diameter

DS Diameter of launch canister

L, W Resonant length, and width, respectively of the microwave patch antennas
M Mass of the Power-Star
peff Packing efficiency

Psa Total power input from the solar arrays and internal transceivers

Pt Total power transmitted from the central lobe

QS Solar insolation at 1 AU

RE Radius of the earth

s Average distance between the centers of neighboring patch antennas
tf Orbit lifetime

w Skin thickness
z Transmit distance
 Ballistic coefficient
x Minimum beam width; also approximate diameter of the rectenna
eff Aggregate efficiency of solar arrays and patch antennas

S , T Efficiencies of the solar cells and microwave patch antennas, respectively

 Operating wavelength
 Gravitational constant of the Earth
m micron

 Atm ( a ) Atmospheric density at orbit radius a

 skin Volumetric density of the skin

 Angle between the sun and beacon directions

A.C. Charania, J.R. Olds, and d. Depasquale, “Operational Demonstration of Space Solar Power (SSP); Economic
Analysis of a First Revenue Satellite (FRS)”.
J.C. Mankins, The Case for Space SolarPower. Virginia Edition Publishing LLC, Houston Texas, December 2013.

3 solar-
D. L.Chandler, David L. (2012). "While you’re up, print me a solar cell - MIT News Office". Retrieved 20
February 2012.
"Echo 1, 1A, 2 Quicklook". Mission and Spacecraft Library. NASA. Retrieved February 6, 2010.

H. M. Jones; I. I. Shapiro; P. E. Zadunaisky (1961). "Solar Radiation Pressure Effects, Gas Leakage Rates, and Air
Densities Inferred From the Orbit Of Echo I". In H. C. Van De Hulst, C. De Jager and A. F. Moore. Space Research II,
Proceedings of the Second International Space Science Symposium, Florence, April 10-14, 1961 (North-Holland Pub-
lishing Company-Amsterdam).

“Echo II Satelloon Inflation, 1964.

Mathias Fink, “Time-Reversed Acoustics” Scientific American, November 1999.

Larson, and Wertz, Space Mission Analysis and Design, 3rd Edition, Figure 8.4.