Status Report

Testimony of Dr. David R. Criswell: Senate Hearing on “Lunar Exploration”

By SpaceRef Editor
November 6, 2003
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Testimony of Dr. David R. Criswell at Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space Hearings: “Lunar Exploration”

Thursday, November 6, 2003, 2:30 PM – SR-253

Dr. David R. Criswell, Director, Institute for Space Systems Operations, University of
Houston and University of Houston-Clear Lake

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

I am honored to have this opportunity to introduce a program for the economic and
environmental security for Earth, and especially for the United States of America, by
meeting Earth’s real electrical power needs.

By 2050, approximately 10 billion people will live on Earth demanding ~5 times the
power now available. By then, solar power from the Moon could provide everyone
clean, affordable, and sustainable electric power. No terrestrial options can provide the
needed minimum of 2 kWe/person or at least 20 terawatts globally.

Solar power bases will be built on the Moon that collect a small fraction of the Moon’s
dependable solar power and convert it into power beams that will dependably deliver
lunar solar power to receivers on Earth. On Earth each power beam will be transformed
into electricity and distributed, on-demand, through local electric power grids. Each
terrestrial receiver can accept power directly from the Moon or indirectly, via relay
satellites, when the receiver cannot view the Moon. The intensity of each power beam is
restricted to 20%, or less, of the intensity of noontime sunlight. Each power beam can be
safely received, for example, in an industrially zoned area.

The Lunar Solar Power (LSP) System does not require basic new technological
developments. Adequate knowledge of the Moon and the essential technologies have
been available since the late 1970s to design, build, and operate the LSP System.
Automated machines and people would be sent to the Moon to build the lunar power
bases. The machines would build the power components from the common lunar dust
and rocks, thereby avoiding the high cost of transporting materials from the Earth to the
Moon. The LSP System is distributed and open. Thus, it can readily accommodate new
manufacturing and operating technologies as they become available.

Engineers, scientists, astronauts, and managers skilled in mining, manufacturing,
electronics, aerospace, and industrial production of commodities will create new wealth
on the Moon. Thousands of tele-robotic workers in American facilities, primarily on
Earth, will oversee the lunar machinery and maintain the LSP System.

Our national space program, in cooperation with advanced U.S. industries, can produce
the LSP System for a small fraction of the cost of building equivalent power generating
capabilities on Earth. Shuttle- and Space Station-derived systems and LSP production machinery can be in operation in space and on the Moon within a few years. A
demonstration LSP System can grow quickly to 50% of averaged U.S. electric
consumption, ~0.2 TWe, within 15 years and be profitable thereafter. When LSP
provides 20 terawatts of electric power to Earth it can sell the electricity at one-fifth of
today’s cost or ~1 ¢/kWe-h. At current electric prices LSP would generate ~9 trillion
dollars per year of net income.

Like hydroelectric dams, every power receiver on Earth can be an engine of clean
economic growth. Gross World Product can increase a factor of 10. The average annual
per capita income of Developing Nations can increase from today’s $2,500 to ~$20,000.
Economically driven emigrations, such as from Mexico and Central America to the
United States, will gradually decrease.

Increasingly wealthy Developing Nations will generate new and rapidly growing markets
for American goods and services. Lunar power can generate hydrogen to fuel cars at low
cost and with no release of greenhouse gases. United States payments to other nations for
oil, natural gas, petrochemicals, and commodities such as fertilizer will decrease. LSP
industries will establish new, high-value American jobs. LSP will generate major
investment opportunities for Americans. The average American income could increase
from today’s ~$35,000/y-person to more than $150,000/y-person.

By 2050, the LSP System would allow all human societies to prosper while nurturing
rather than consuming the biosphere.

Respectfully submitted,

Dr. David R. Criswell, Director, Institute for Space Systems Operations, University of
Houston and University of Houston-Clear Lake, Houston, TX
The Lunar Solar Power System and its general benefits are described in the attached fourpage

Additional papers are available on these websites and via search engines (search on
“David R. Criswell” or “Lunar Solar Power”):

The Industrial Physicist

The World Energy Congress (17th and 18th)

Related Testimony Links

  • Testimony of Dr. Roger Angel: Senate Hearing on “Lunar Exploration”
  • Testimony of Hon. Harrison H. Schmitt: Senate Hearing on “Lunar Exploration”
  • Testimony of Dr. Paul D. Spudis: Senate Hearing on “Lunar Exploration”
  • SpaceRef staff editor.