Dr. Sagan’s 2/9/1990 address before the 5th Emerging Issues Forum at NCSU, broadcast live on NC Public TV. Sagan spoke at the invitation of former Gov. Jim Hunt, co-creator of the Forum. The speech begins at 6:12.
Sagan expounds on climate observations and energy strategies for a sustainable future, emphasizing solar.
His speech was referenced in my 1990 student radio interviews with Gregg Maryniak and Chris Faranetta of the Space Studies Institute (SSI) and Dr. George A. (Jay) Keyworth II, former Science Advisor to President Reagan, on the subject of space solar power (SSP).
The SSP story: Princeton physicist Gerard K. O’Neill joined with Dr. Peter E. Glaser of A.D. Little Corp. and Raytheon engineer William C. Brown in the 1970s-1980s to solve the seemingly diametric problems of massive 21st century energy requirements and planetary preservation for a plan that would start up an ambitious off-Earth enterprise for America and partners.
NASA and the Dept. of Energy released a joint study “Satellite Power System Concept Development and Evaluation Program Assessment Report” in 1980. NASA and DOE found a technical case for SSP but no financial case assuming materials launched 100% from the ground. SSP concepts have improved. Launch alternatives have multiplied as costs decline. PVs, robotics, and 3D printing have improved.
The discovery of water ice at the lunar poles in 2009 aids the case for using lunar materials, a rationale introduced by SSI, whose study in the mid-1980s found a 97% cost-savings by using the moon. The sunsat was invented by Glaser in 1968, based on Brown’s microwave wireless power transfer demonstrations in 1964.
The O’Neill-Glaser-Brown vision called for partnerships to expand economic activity on the High Frontier, including sunsat manufacture from lunar materials via lunar surface machines and free-space processing infrastructure. NEOs would be captured for additional materials and fuels, meeting planetary defense requirements.
SSP would scale to meet a potential $10 trillion market for new and replacement electric generating stations, extend the life of coal, oil & gas, end the nuclear stopgap, provide inexhaustible clean energy to the nations, charge electric vehicles, and deliver instant secure power to disaster zones and forward military operations.
The activity would allay Dr. Sagan’s concerns, here so eloquently expressed, over CO2 greenhouse warming and the problem of nuclear waste disposal. The industry would be the business backbone of space settlement. Dr. O’Neill’s rotating habitats in free space, built also from lunar materials and powered by the sun, would facilitate the growth of industry and species to a potential many times the capacity on the ground.
SSP workers and others would live in 1g environments in shielded sunlit cylindrical real estate in Lagrangian orbits known to be stable. These inverted biospheres would be in part cities for the workers, part industry & agriculture, part university, part water & wilderness, and part sports/recreation & tourism destinations.
Travel and trade between facilities and Earth would be a relatively low energy-cost affair with minimal communications delays.