Broadcast 3755 John Bucknell

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John Bucknell; Topics: John spoke more about his company Virtus Solis & their working to commercialize global SSP. He discussed technical & economic issues regarding commercializing global SSP plus he differentiated what his company was doing from others working on SSP, including government projects.

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We welcomed John Bucknell back to the show for his Part 2 Space Show program regarding his company Virtus Solis and their work to commercialize global space solar power.  At the start of the program, John announced that they successfully completed their initial fundraising for operating capital from a key investor that John talked about on air.  This led to a short discussion about VC funding for SSP, the stages involved and what would be next for his company.  Listen to what he said would be needed for demo flights and other company activities.  It is as if he completes one round of funding and starts right in on the next.  In talking investment and investors, he also talked about the "activist" type of investor.  John addressed some economics and ROI concerns, then he said his space solar power energy would be priced competitive with all forms of energy.  He listed some pricing objectives per kw/h and talked about both domestic and global markets.  In discussing the market for solar, he talked about a loss of market the further north of the equator you go but with SSP, that does not happen.  He used his current location as an example of ground solar not being very effective.  In addition, John mentioned that with SSP, it would be possible to deliver variable amounts of power as needed due to excess capacity and the needs of an area. California was used as an example with brown outs and rolling blackouts being the name of the game for power management in the state.

Delivering variable amounts of power led to questions about grid management using the ISO here in CA as an example. This led to a vibrant discussion about power ramp up rates for coal, natural gas, nuclear and SSP.  Listeners participated in this discussion via email and with a phone call from Marshall.  Listen to what our guest said would be the ramp up rate with SSP compared to fusion which we don't yet have.  Part of this discussion focused on rectenna location and the surface area needed given diffraction.  John said about the narrowest beam possible would require a 2 km diameter (1.2 miles), negating individual SSP connections based on a listener question. 

John mentioned a few times a pending release of a thorough and likely favorable UK research project summary report focusing on SSP.  He had some thoughts on the UK system and their research so don't miss what he said about it.  The Cal Tech R&D system came for discussion plus in a call from Fremont John, the Cal Tech design was mentioned.  Fremont John asked about phased arrays rectennas.  Our guest talked about rectennas, his SSP hardware being about 36,000 miles above the Earth, then we talked about loss or dispersion of the signal through the Van Allen belts and due to weather, mostly clouds and rain.  He said microwaves would not be dispersed and weakened through the Van Allen belts plus he talked about the worst scenario case of signal loss due to clouds or heavy rain measured at about 4 inches/hour.  At that rate John suggested the loss would max out at about 6%.  Our guest then talked about LEO demos with the first one schedule for 2023.  He mentioned challenges for the LEO demo so don't miss what he said.  Also talked about with caller Fremont John was the use of three Starship launches (assuming Starship being operation).  Listen to what they said about alternatives and mass to LEO rather than to the destination.  At this point, our guest referenced a company for more information, Intersect Power, LLC in San Francisco, an independent systems developer for solar in Texas and California. 

A Denver listener sent John a long email question asking why an investor would trust John's numbers on the spread sheets and financial sheets given so much of what John was doing was new, not yet in existence, no track records and more.  John gave a very broad and thorough answer to this question which you will want to hear.  Rather than trying to summarize what John said in his response, just listen carefully to his response.  Let us know what you think by posting on or blog your thoughts as to the listeners question and John's reply.   

Bill called to inquire about issues with spectrum allocation.  John said this was a big issue, had lots to say and said there was or would be an SSP consortium working to get SSP frequently allocation for the industry.  At this point, I asked him some questions raised by a listener to a Hotel Mars program recently addressing SSP  Once again, John was asked about cloud cover and the weakening of the SSP transmission because of it.  In his response John went into a bit more detail than he did earlier in the show but the bottom line was about the same.  Our guest repeated that the worst case would be about a 6% loss of power with heavy clouds or a huge rainstorm. 

As we were nearing the end of the program, John said the most mature of the related industries to making SSP happen was wireless power and microwave.  He cited examples in his discussion.  Fremont John sent in a final email asking about the degradation of the SSP equipment over time.  Our guest suggested a planned 20 year lifetime.  Before ending, I asked if his space hardware was EMP proof or even resistant.  Don't miss the answer to that one.

Gene was the final caller form Pasadena. He went over his much discussed SSP plans (on previous Space Show programs) with the intent to connect with current government officials to work SSP into our national space and energy policy.  Gene said he was more policy and political minded than technical and was looking at SSP as a total industry, not for commercial, government or specific projects.  What do you think? Political, business, both or something else?  Please post on the blog.

Our guest summarized his comments for us, repeated that he was looking for a commercial global solution and that he was very optimistic about the outcome. 

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John presents Part 2 of his new business plans regarding SSP

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12 Sep 2021 John Bucknell
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  • space settlement progress

  • The Space Foundation Conference

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  • helix-space the space show sponsor

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