World leaders have long been discussing climate change. Multiple summits have stressed the need to take immediate action to prevent disastrous consequences of global warming. Finally, there is an exciting new idea – Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP), which entails tapping sunlight in space to generate clean constant energy. Interestingly, in August 2008, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam in his speech at Boston University had specified that SBSP has the potential to offer 24 hours “perennial supply of renewable energy from space.” It is this idea that won the top prize for innovation in technology for a clean and truly prosperous world at the D-3 (Diplomacy, Defense and Development) summit on 2 March in Washington, D.C. The D-3 saw 500 idea submissions across the US. Out of these, only six were selected for the finals. The Space-based Solar Power idea took the top four of the seven prizes (for innovation, collaboration, presentation and people’s choice). This could be another revolution in the making.
According to The Huffington Post, in his speech ‘The Future of Space Exploration and Human Development’ in Boston, the former Indian President cautioned that with an increase in world population to 9 billion by 2050, there would be shortage of energy, water, and increasing damage on the ecology. While warning that “civilisation on earth will run out of fossil fuels in this century.” At that time, Dr Kalam had recognized the absence of fully reusable space transportation as the reason humankind has not benefited from SBSP in geo-stationary and other orbits yet.
Seven years later, in December 2015, the world witnessed the successful return of Space X’s Falcon 9 to Cape Canaveral, demonstrating the scope to reuse space transportation. So, the re-use space technology that Dr Kalam identified as key for mankind to benefit from SBSP now exists and will only be further replicated as we go forward. In 2013, Dr Kalam and Mark Hopkins, chairman of the Executive Committee of the National Space Society (NSS) released a joint statement that identified the need for global collaboration in space to meet the challenges faced by earth due to depleting resources and climate change. In the statement, both stated that the NSS and Indian space experts have worked together over the years to realise the untapped and enormous potential of SBSP, especially through US-India and other international collaboration.