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A space solar power prototype has demonstrated its ability to wirelessly beam power through space and direct a detectable amount of energy toward Earth for the first time.

The experiment proves the viability of tapping into a near-limitless supply of power in the form of energy from the sun from space.

Because solar energy in space isn’t subject to factors like day and night, obscuration by clouds, or weather on Earth, it is always available. In fact, it is estimated that space-based harvesters could potentially yield eight times more power than solar panels at any location on the surface of the globe.

The wireless power transfer was achieved by the Microwave Array for Power-transfer Low-orbit Experiment (MAPLE), an array of flexible and lightweight microwave power transmitters, which is one of the three instruments carried by the Space Solar Power Demonstrator (SSPD-1).

MAPLE is equipped with solar panels that can withstand 'the harsh environment of space', including wild temperature swings and solar radiation.

Source: Scientific American