China’s ever-growing space program is aiming for another world first: the development of a solar power station in the cosmos.
Chinese scientists have begun construction of an experimental base in Chongqing, with the goal of a smaller power station to be placed in the stratosphere between 2021 and 2025.
This would be followed by a megawatt-level station in 2030, and then a gigawatt-level facility far beyond Earth before 2050, according to the state-backed Science and Technology Daily.
The China Academy of Space Technology Corporation claims that these set-ups could “reliably supply energy 99 per cent of the time, at six times the intensity of solar installations on Earth”.
The proposal would involve converting the solar energy into electricity in space before beaming it back to the planet using either a microwave or laser and then being fed into the ground via a receiving system.
The ambitious plans come after China successfully landed a lunar probe on the far side of the moon at the beginning of the year, which will allow Beijing to explore on a level never seen before, thanks to the lack of electromagnetic interference from Earth.
China also became the first nation to successfully grow plants on the moon, after the first green leaf sprouted from a cotton seed nine days after the experiment was initiated last month.
China has an $8 billion annual budget for its space program, second only to the United States.
Receive the latest developments and updates on Australia’s space industry direct to your inbox. Subscribe today to Space Connect here.