Japan’s Wireless Energy From Space

It might seem impossible, but a team of engineers and space scientists at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have successfully sent a shot of energy through the air. It is, of course, a little bit more complicated than that, but the first test appears to be a resounding success.

Researchers sent 1.8 kilowatts of energy – a relatively modest amount – over a span of 55 meters (170 feet). The most important part of the test was that the energy was sent was a very high level of accuracy, which can have great potential for future space operations.

“This was the first time anyone has managed to send a high output of nearly two kilowatts of electric power via microwaves to a small target, using a delicate directivity control device,” said a spokesman for JAXA.

What exactly is a microwave? The short answer is that it is electromagnetic radiation. That may sound obtuse, but visible light also falls under this category. Microwaves are “smaller” than many other types, thus the name. What’s important is how they are used, which might eventually be the type of transmission to get energy secured in outer space back down here on Earth.

That’s the great advantage this technology could have. Imagine a field of solar panels arrayed in space. There’s not much to get in the way up there and they can be positioned to receive sunlight twenty-four hours a day. It could vastly increase the usability of solar energy and in turn make huge gains in sustainability.

While the ISS and many current satellites have used solar panels to sustain themselves, the idea of bringing that energy home has been elusive.

Unfortunately, the spokesman from JAXA claims that commercial availability for this technology is decades off at best. It is a potential power boon for Japan however, as the energy-starved country has been forced to import nearly all of its power after the Fukushima incident.

After this, you can be sure to expect more success from Japan’s scientists in the near future, as more testing is expected. Research on wireless energy from space has been going on since 2009.