Constructing a Dyson Sphere or a similar mega-structure in space

From Wikipedia -
A Dyson sphere is a hypothetical that completely encompasses a star and captures a large percentage of its power output. The concept is a thought experiment that attempts to explain how a spacefaring civilization would meet its energy requirements once those requirements exceed what can be generated from the home planet’s resources alone. Only a tiny fraction of a star’s energy emissions reaches the surface of any orbiting planet. Building structures encircling a star would enable a civilization to harvest far more energy."

I know it would be way overly audacious to require teams to construct a Dyson Sphere (at least in this century). However, there are other ideas for useful mega-structures in space, like swarms with hundreds-of-thousands of satellites that can together harvest large amounts of solar radiation.

The feasibility of such a project has been evaluated in a scientific paper published in PNAS in 2006, with the author claiming that this kind of a system could be developed and deployed by 2030 or so. See -

What do you think?

And thank you, @crointel, for mentioning the concept of Dyson Spheres in this forum!

@Roey Thanks for creating this thread. Also according to Wikipedia, one of the variations of Dyson spheres, Dyson bubble, seems approachable in this century.

How do you think?

I can’t speak to the realism of the timeline, but I will use this opportunity to share a clip from the best TV show ever made :grin:

What a space wonder!

Hi @pjaffeva, @Spacearch and @JohnBucknell - As you have experience in this area - curious to know your thoughts on this topic. Thanks.

Uhh… No, it isn’t.

@ymedan -
What do you think about this idea? I know that audacious concepts like this one are right up your alley :slight_smile:

@Roey To be honest, I think that bacteria and viruses will take care of global warming by decimating life on earth, before we complete this audacious project… This will definitely reduce the temperature.

Covid-19 has been a proof of concept.

Hi Shashi and everyone,
Functionally, a solar power satellite could be considered as an elemental building block of a Dyson sphere or swarm. Just as it made sense to build the engine for the Wright Flyer before building a fleet of 747s, near term focus on component technologies that support solar power satellites should likely be addressed first.
Thanks,
Paul

Paul is correct, the human capability to manufacture massive goods in massive scale is still a ways out.

That’s fair, although I have my reservations about COVID-19. For now it looks like those parts of the world which rely on science & technology and have the funds to support them, have managed the virus very well.

That’s a great point!

I hope you don’t mind me pushing further on this issue, but what would be the specs, in your mind, of a solar power satellite if we want to claim that it can become the first Lego building block of a future Dyson sphere / swarm?

(just to be clear, I have not spent much time looking at the Dyson sphere/swarm literature, so there may well already exist a more cogent development scheme that I’m just ignorant of)

The nature of the first building block is a key question. One of the things that I feel is sometimes neglected with Dyson sphere discussions is what the energy will actually be used for, and where. Will the outer surface (portion not facing the star) of the Dyson sphere/swarm be covered with manufacturing or other materials processing facilities? Or will the energy be beamed to a planet, station, or other distant facility? The Lego block for each might look quite different.

I think a zeroth order key spec or feature is likely to be specific power (W/kg), as it is for solar power satellites, as well as the quality of how suitable it is for putting into larger arrays.

Thanks @pjaffeva and @JohnBucknell for sharing your thoughts. Just needed to further understand if you feel XPRIZE should focus on this area for its next $10M XPRIZE? if yes, vote for this topic or else add another topic, which you feel is more important.

Thanks!

Just to let you know: we’re taking your points to heart, and are including them in our weekly community reports as valuable information we may use down the road.