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do the job, and Apollo pressure was considerably less than "wartime footing."

I would like to see a Satellite Solar Power Station for New York. The 5-6th Graders at the Garrison School would like to see it. Al Yanitelli who runs the liquor store in Cold Spring would like to see it. Connie Umberger who runs the bookstore, my wife's friends in the Garden Club, everyone with whom I have spoken in the environmentalist movement would like to see it. When I

have shown slides on the Space Program to the Brewster Lions, the Carmel and Kent Historical Societies, the Watertown Presbyterian Church, and elsewhere, I have been kept, always, 45 minutes to an hour after each talk answering questions. Perhaps this interest is local,

but long distance phone calls to friends across the country, and a recent trip to Texas and California indicate a widespread and growing interest in the future of space.

The New Frontier offers fame, wealth, and challenge. Our need for energy, for new raw materials, for new products, can spark its opening. Then who knows what opportunities will come. Who could have guessed, 200 years ago, what opening the world west of the Appalachians would bring us? I want to see a Satellite Solar Power Station serving New York City as a forerunner of many others. I admire what the Soviets are doing, but I think we should be exploring the ways to a better life up there too.

January 19, 1978

5124 Durham Rd. W Columbia, Md. 21044

Committee on Science and Technology
U. S. House of Representatives

2321 Rayburn Office Bldg.
Washington, D. C. 20546

Dear Mr. Chairman:

I recently sent a letter to N. P. Ruzic, author of the IDEA concept. A copy of his reply (January 11, 1978) is enclosed. I am following his suggestions. You will find enclosed:

1) Copy of my letter to Ruzic, modified for publica-
tion, and now dated January 18, 1978.

2) Copy of "Solar Thermal Power".

3) Copy of U. S. Patent 4,033, 118 "Mass Flow Solar
Energy Receiver".

I offer all this material, including this letter, as testimony to the Committee on Science and Technology.

Note that I first communicated this new absorber concept to NASA Headquarters (Code RR) on March 25, 1977. Dr. K. W. Billman of NASA-Ames Research Center responded to that letter September 13, 1977 and private communication on the concept is continuing. I further note that Mr. T. A. Coultas of the National Bureau of Standards Office of "Energy Related Inventions" is the coordinator of a "level two" investigation of the concept. Dr. Billman and/or Mr. Coultas can be consulted for independent evaluation of the new concept.

Sincerely yours,

W. R. Powell

W. R. Powell, Ph.D)

Neil Ruzic & Co.

consultants to NASA

developers of "Island for Science'

January 11, 1977

Mr. W. R. Powell

Applied Physics Laboratory

The Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins Rd.

Laurel, Md. 20810

Dear Mr. Powell:

Thank you very much for your letter of Jan. 5. Certainly the idea of solar powersats constitutes the best future space program. Toward that end, I suggest you send a copy of your letter to me, modified for publication, prior to Jan. 24, to:

Mr. James E. Wilson

Committee on Science & Technology
U.S. House of Representatives
2321 Rayburn Office Bldg.

Washington, D. C. 20546

telephone: (202) 225-8101

Jim is the staff man for the Committee on Science & Technology, headed by Olin E. Teague, of Texas, which committee is meeting Jan. 24-26 to consider future space programs. An expanded version of my I.D.E.A. article will appear as part of the testimony. Ask Jim Wilson to include your letter in the booklet of testimony.

I also suggest you modify the letter for publication in Industrial Research. Send it to editor Robert L. Jones, Industrial Research, Dun-Donnelley Publishing Corp., 222 S. Riverside Plaza, Chicago, Ill. 60606. (You had the address wrong in your letter.) Tell Jones you would like to have it appear in the Letter to the Editor column.

Let's keep in touch.


Meil Ragic

Neil P. Ruzic

(219) 874-5139 PO. 527, Beverly Shores, Ind. 46301

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18 January 1978

Mr. Neil P. Ruzic

c/o Industrial Research Editor

2225 Riverside Plaza

Chicago, Illinois 60606

Dear Mr. Ruzic:

I support IDEA (I.R. September 1977). I believe that the low-orbit solar satellite is the most economical approach. I use "economical" in the same broad sense that you employ in your article. I don't know how it compares in the narrow "costof-satellite-per-kilowatt" interpretation of "economical." It has the attractive feature of providing energy to any sunlit point on earth willing to build the ground station.

Global war would destroy satellites. Even if selective destruction of all "military" satellites were practical instead of indiscriminate assault on all satellites, it would not be the approach selected because each warring state would suspect that latent inside a "civilian" satellite was a "military" backup capability. Thus in a world dependent upon satellite power, global war would be self-destructive no matter how confident a nation was in its ability to defend its boundary. I personally am already convinced that anti-missile systems, etc., will never be able to erect a shield over any nation which is sufficiently tight to prevent its destruction. But some do not share this belief and may foolishly consider that repeated risk of global war is acceptable in the interest of particular national' aims.

Thus I write to make you aware that it may not be necessary to wait for solar cells to be reduced in price and weight before satellite power is practical. Also it may not be necessary to wait until a high quality concentration mirror can be deployed in space. That is, the complex, servocontrolled, segmented mirror of Boeing Company may not be required for solar-thermal-electric power. I direct your attention to U.S. Patent 4,033,118 and "Absorber for Solar Power."1 As explained in that article, a new absorber concept may make solar-thermal-electric power practi- · cal without perfecting a quality mirror for space deployment. The possible significance for world peace of this new concept had escaped my understanding until I read Drummond's proposal for loworbit solar-power satellites. Your position at I.R. and your clever IDEA concept may be instrumental in directing attention and efforts of many nations toward humane and economical utilization of space. I will assist you in this endeavor in any way

I can.

Sincerely yours,


Applied Optics, 13, 2430

W. R. Powell



In the early years of space exploration, both NASA and the Air Force recognized that solar energy could be collected using a lightweight reflecting (aluminized) film and concentrated to provide a large permanent power source with potentially less expense and lower lift-off weight than any other alternative. NASA constructed a 32-ft. diameter space deployable mirror as part of project SUNFLOWER. The SUNFLOWER prototype design for a 3 kW electric system weighed about 700 lbs. but an ultimate design goal of a 100 kW power plant weighing only 850 lbs. was considered feasible, (Ref. 1). Goodyear Aerospace (Ref. 2) constructed a prototype 44.5-ft. diameter inflatable mirror which would automatically deploy in space using an in situ generator of rigid foam. This mirror was part of a 15 kW electric power plant design developed under contract AF 33 (616) 7128 by Sundstrand Aviation. The optical performance characteristics of several smaller prototype mirrors of this type are discussed in detail in Appendix A. Neither the 32-ft. nor the 44.5-ft. diameter mirrors were ever tested in space. Both formed poor quality images. fact along with the continued improvements in photovoltaic cells caused a shift in emphasis in the space program. The promise of cheap, lightweight, everlasting space power via solar thermal conversion was all but forgotten because space deployable mirrors could not produce a small focal spot.


A quality mirror with a small focal spot is required when a black-body cavity is used as the absorber in a solar thermal electric power plant in order to achieve high temperatures. High temperatures are necessary for efficient energy conversion, which is Carnot limited, even in space. If a conventional blackbody absorber is made large enough to intercept the poorly formed focal image available from space deployable mirrors, then reradiation losses prevent it from becoming as hot as desired.

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