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Swarms of CubeSats for kW scale Space-Based Solar Power (16U4SBSP)



Organisational Unit
Activity Type
Implementation progress
02 October 2023

Duration: 12 months


The mission concept "16U4SBSP" intends to demonstrate the use of a Swarm of 16U CubeSats for the realization of Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP), which can supply electric energy to various end-users e.g. in remote areas with low power requirements (<MW) and/or for emergency operations in the blackout zones affected by natural or manmade hazards. The intended mission can supply wireless electricity for space-to-ground or space-to-space commercial applications. In the proposed demonstration mission, a swarm of CubeSats collaboratively supply a kW-scale power to clients and end-users in different locations, e.g. remote/strategic areas on Earth's surface or in-orbit power supply to data-centres or other in-orbit modules with auxiliary power requirements. This mission concept is a fundamental technology demonstration step for the realization of GW-scale SBSP, aimed to provide clean and limitless energy from space through wireless power transmission toward the middle of 21st century.

Nonetheless, the original GW-scale SBSP requires large-scale transportation and robotics for the construction of km-scale infrastructure in space, whereas the proposed 16U4SBSP mission can be realized cheaper, faster and easier in short-term. The full mission consists of three segments: launch segment (to launch the CubeSats to the selected orbit), space segment (the swarm of CubeSats), ground segment (to collect the transferred energy and provide it to the end-user).

Mobile and portable ground segments can be envisaged for emergency operations. The main key technologies which enable the mission concept are:

  1. the power transmission system (which, on each CubeSat in the space segment, consists of a phased RF antenna and the corresponding DC-RF conversion unit);
  2. a robust propulsion system with high total impulse capabilities, to ensure formation flying and station keeping for the whole lifetime;
  3. an orientable solar array system, to maximize the available on-board power.
Contract number
OSIP Idea Id
Related OSIP Campaign
Innovative Mission Concepts Enabled by Swarms of CubeSats
Main application area
Swarms of CubeSats for kW scale Space-Based Solar Power (16U4SBSP)