An experimental American spaceplane Boeing X-37B, which is a classified project, has tested a microwave emitter in orbit. This is not a weapon, although the spaceplane also performs military tasks. The emitter may come in handy in the future for orbiting solar power plants that will redirect energy to Earth.
A publication about this experience was found by Space.com on the peer-reviewed scientific portal IEEE Xplore. The article was written by employees of the Air Force Research Laboratories (AFRL), Navy (NRL), US Department of Energy (SNL), Raytheon and Kyoto University. The publication also provides information on the Space Solar Power Supplemental Demonstration and Research Program (SSPIDR). A corresponding experiment is already being carried out on board the X-37B.
The device called PRAM-FX is a square tile, on one side of which there is an array of photoconverters, and on the other – a phased antenna array. The latter can generate a directed microwave beam. Scientists wanted to evaluate the efficiency of converting sunlight into focused radio radiation.
Preliminary results indicate that only 8% of the energy from sunlight is converted into a radio beam. This, however, can be improved.
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