Broadcast 3716 John Bucknell

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Guest:  John Bucknell;  Topics:  John's new SSP commercial venture, Virtus Solis Technologies, SSP R&D, SSP commercial readiness, markets, competition, manufacturing on Earth versus on orbit or on the Moon, cislunar development, SSP financing, nuclear energy alternatives.

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We welcomed John Bucknell back to the show to discuss his new business venture regarding space solar power, Virtus Solis Technologies (www.virtussolis.space).  He started the discussion by talking about his transition from focusing on nuclear propulsion to space solar power.  He went through the nuclear challenges, then he did a short historical review of space solar power.  After completing the historical review, he talked about how the SpaceX Starship was perhaps key to establishing the SSP market.  John proceeded to list several options for commercial opportunities with SSP.  Don't miss what John said.  You might want to comment on the options presented by John.  Our blog is waiting for your opinions right now.  After listing the commercial options, John defined what he meant by talking about a "viable commercial company." 

Fremont John called to talk about the absence on his website of detailed information about his SSP plans.  John said that as a young company seeking funds, much of his technology was proprietary which is why he was and is operating in stealth mode.  John and John talked about "O'Neill like structures for SSP, the needed capital, with our guest saying that there was no financial source the amount of capital needed for a large project like that or a government project. Once again he stressed the need to commercial, scalable, and cost effective. 

Later in the discussion, our guest explained in some detail why he was using microwaves to beam the power to Earth and not lasers.  He also referenced the work of the famous investment bank, Lazard, regarding their analysis on energy costs.  Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) were once again visited with our guest ranking various stages of SSP development with a different TRL.  Fremont John had several additional questions for our guest about his commentary on Earth based manufacturing rather than do such in space or on the Moon.  Make sure you listed to what our guest said were the reasons he preferred Earth based manufacturing.

Listener Peter called a few times.  He was interested in knowing why Elon Musk was not a fan of SSP.  In addition, he asked John if he thought SSP would become a billionaires business venture and industry.  Once again, be sure to hear how John responded to Peter's questions.  John then focused on the just completed ISDC 2021 program as there were several quality SSP programs.  By the way, you can hear the ISDC 2021 on their YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/NationalSpaceSociety.  Fremont John sent in an email with additional SSP technical questions, challenges and the like.  Our guest had much to say in reply to John/s email so don't miss this late program commentary. 

Kim called to talk about batteries.  This too was a great discussion.  Hint:  Our guest said much needed battery work was still to come.  We talked about distributing energy, utility companies, storage, and more.  Peter called again to talk about SSP PR, market aspects for the business, and John went back to talking about the need for health and safety.  He had more to say about using microwaves to get power back to Earth.  Fremont John wanted to know if the space under the rectennas could be open for dual use.  The answer was yes but listen to how our guest described open space for under the rectennas.  Listener Steve in Las Vegas called to talk about national security and protecting the SSP systems and infrastructure from bad actors.  Before ending, our guest talked about SSP sending power to the Moon, cislunar space, or Mars.  John talked about diffraction, physics, suggested Cislunar for sure but that physics puts constraints on beaming power in scalable ways.  Our guest offered concluding comments, we talked about scheduling a Part 2 of this program which we have already set for Sunday, Sept 12, 2021. 

Please post your comments/questions for John Bucknell on our blog for this program. You can reach our guest through me or his website per above.

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John's SSP project. See links on the blog

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02 Jul 2021 John Bucknell
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