China is planning to put a space station with a solar array in orbit about 35,000km from Earth.
Tests to develop technology for the station are already underway at a ground laboratory in Beijing, Zhang Bonan, the chief designer of manned space vehicles at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, told the Space and Technology Daily, a newspaper run by the Ministry of Science and Technology.
While the report did not mention when China will start building the orbiting solar power plant, previous media reports have suggested that it might be launched between 2030 and 2050.
The solar power station is expected to produce huge amounts of energy as it directly receives sunlight without filtering from the Earth's atmosphere, and could operate continuously. Since the technology could beam high sources of energy at Earth, it could be potentially used for military purposes, reported the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
Besides China, researchers from the U.S. and Japan had proposed similar solar power station designs since the 1970s. However, the exorbitant costs and technical challenges involved have always hindered such projects from coming to fruition.
According to SCMP, the longest distance for the wireless transmission of energy was reported by researchers in Japan last year. They only managed to beam 1.8 kilowatts of energy to a small receiver 50 metres away.
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