Photo courtesy of

       In today’s society, the world is in constant danger. It is easy to turn on the news and find disheartening statistics. A key question we find ourselves asking for the future of humanity is, where are we going to get our energy? Our current carbon-emitting sources which come from fossil fuels, cause well-known harm to our climate. According to the Global Carbon Project, the production of energy is responsible for 87% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Looking towards nuclear and renewables clearly provide a good chance of minimizing the reliance on energy that harms the Earth and will eventually run out. In fact, on December 5th, 2022, nuclear fusion was accomplished with a net positive energy collection by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, reaching “ignition.” However, nuclear fusion is far from being consistent and rapid, so in the coming years, we must look for alternate sources. One of these energy contenders with major hope is solar power. 

       Solar power has long been considered ineffective due to environmental factors like nighttime, clouds, dust, and the sheer amount of land required to make it effective; however, there is a path forward for solar energy if we look to the stars. 30% of the energy that reaches the earth from the sun is reflected back into space. That is a real waste of energy that we are not even receiving. The new technology that has been ruminating in the minds of many interstellar organizations is space-based solar power. Without any weather or time constraints, it could constantly collect solar energy, intermittently transmitting it back in the form of long-range wireless energy transmission. Despite the benefits of such a project, there are some things that need to be developed and considered before construction. Maintenance of technology in orbit is substantially harder than on earth, and wireless energy transmission is still in development in order to ensure maximum safety if a mishap were to occur.

       As engineers, these are problems that we must identify and challenge in order to gain full use of such a device. Many different engineers will need such a large-scale project involving many moving parts including space travel, energy collection, energy transmission, and all of the necessary moving parts. Chemical engineers will be needed to store energy and design panels that absorb as much radiation energy as possible. Aerospace engineers will be needed in ensuring a stable orbit. Materials and communication engineers will be able to design systems to transfer this energy to earth. Software engineers can manage such an important project in terms of communication, calculations, and visualization of what such a project would need. Given data about longitude and latitude, as well as the orbit of the system, you could find the most optimal spots to receive energy. By running a variety of distance, weather, and safety requirements, a filtered list could be made with potential locations, which humans could individually review to decide. How we produce our energy will be an important issue to tackle in the future of humanity, and the ability to mix engineering disciplines will be key to finding new solutions.