PowerLight Technologies, a pioneer in the development of safe, commercially viable wireless power beaming solutions for long-distance transmission at kilowatt class power levels, has been selected to contribute expertise and support to Blue Origin’s lunar power infrastructure development. This collaboration is part of Blue Origin’s recognition under the DARPA Lunar Architecture (LunA-10) initiative, where 14 companies, including Blue Origin, were chosen to design integrated system-level solutions for diverse lunar services.
PowerLight Technologies, the sole entity to date that has successfully developed and demonstrated commercially viable wireless power beaming over extended distances, holds a prominent position in the burgeoning space industry. The industry, which achieved a market value of $469 billion in 2021, is expected to exceed $634 billion by 2026.
The significance of power beaming lies in its potential to deliver power to remote lunar devices during the initial phases of development, emphasizing the importance of mass efficiency, deployment flexibility, and ease of implementation. As lunar sites become established, some wireless power links can be replaced with dedicated power cable infrastructure, and the dismantled power beaming infrastructure can be repurposed.
In numerous scenarios, beamed power will continue to facilitate the delivery of power to mobile devices, particularly those operating in perpetually dark or shadowed regions, and could even enable the safe transfer of power from nuclear reactors situated at a distance.
Richard Gustafson, President and CEO of PowerLight, highlighted the suitability of PowerLight’s advanced power beaming technology for lunar exploration and mining challenges. The emphasis is on designing comprehensive system-level solutions spanning multiple lunar services, with the aim of creating scalable systems for future lunar users. The initial focus is on building energy infrastructure for lunar exploration and mining, with an eye towards future applications on Mars.
The adaptability offered by laser power beaming is expected to significantly enhance critical lunar operations, including autonomous rover missions in permanently shadowed craters and power transfer between orbiting vehicles and the lunar surface.
One specific application highlighted is In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) ice mining operations in permanently shadowed regions (PSR). These operations, from prospecting to full-scale industry, will necessitate power transmission from isolated regions to mobile assets within the PSR interior.
PowerLight is acknowledged as the global leader in power beaming safety, with several patents in this domain. The company has developed advanced safety systems for both power beaming and power over fiber (PoF), approved by multiple governing agencies, paving the way for large-scale commercialization of the technology. PowerLight is actively working on productizing and commercializing solutions for the global mobile telecoms market while continuing to innovate and deliver new long-distance power beaming solutions for defense and aerospace sectors.
In a notable achievement in 2021, PowerLight collaborated with telecom giant Ericsson to showcase the world’s first wireless power beaming to a 5G base station, illustrating the flexibility that power beaming introduces to the design and deployment of wireless telecommunications networks.
Furthermore, in 2023, PowerLight joined forces with multiple entities for the DARPA POWER (“Persistent Optical Wireless Energy Relay”) Program. This initiative aims to construct an airborne energy relay system for high-altitude, long-range energy transmission to support global military operations facing logistical challenges or multi-domain operations. PowerLight’s involvement in these groundbreaking projects underlines its commitment to advancing wireless power beaming technologies across diverse applications and industries.