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Could this secret space mission change the world?

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The Department of Defense X-37 mission could change everything.

On Sunday, a secret space mission was launched from Cape Canaveral that could change the world in a few decades from now, or less. 

The X-37 is testing a microwave system for delivering power to stations on the ground.

The X-37 is testing a microwave system for delivering power to stations on the ground.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/18/2020 (1 week ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: X-37, space plane, microwaves

LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - On Sunday, the Air Force and the Department of Defense launched the Boeing X-37 space plane, a reusable, unmanned shuttle-like vehicle that launches on a rocket and lands autonomously on a runway after each mission. 

On this mission, the X-37 will test a new method of generating electricity, covering solar power to microwave radiation and beaming it to earth to produce electricity on the ground. If successful, novel, new method of generating electricity could become standard in the decades to come. 

During the experiment, which will be secretly conducted some time in the near future, the X-37 will unfurl its solar panels. The panels will collect sunlight and convert it to electricity, then an onboard system will convert the electricity to microwaves and beam them to a station on the ground. The microwaves will be used to generate electricity at the test station on earth. 

If the experiment works as planned, it would demonstrate the feasibility of using satellites to generate electricity on the ground. According to the hypothesis, a satellite deployed high enough above earth to be in perpetual or near-perpetual sunlight can beam a constant supply of microwaves to a station on the ground. The satellite could also provide microwaves to power vehicles, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (drones). Such a system would permit a drone to remain airborne indefinitely. 

While the Department of Defense is interested in the military application of this technology, there are plenty of uses in the civilian realm. Such a network could power ships at sea, cars on the road, and even our homes, while producing no emissions. It could mean the end of fossil-fuel generated electricity. 

However, such a network is unlikely to be widely used, simply because of the difficulty and expense of lofting satellites into orbit. Nonetheless, a system like this could prove revolutionary and even if used on a small scale, it could change the world. One example could be beaming electricity into an area without power, such as a disaster zone or a region lacking infrastructure. 

The X-37 mission will last for an undetermined period of time. The average length of a mission is now about two years, around 700 days or so. Each mission runs longer than the previous, and the last mission which ended on October 27, 2019 lasted for almost 780 days. 

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