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  • In-Space Wireless Power Transfer

    Paper number



    Mrs. Elisenda Bou, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain


    Mr. Christophe Mandy, Space Systems Laboratory, United States


    Dr. Alvar Saenz-Otero, Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT), United States


    Dr. Eduard Alarcón, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain



    	Since Nicola Tesla demonstrated Wireless Energy Transfer in 1893, there hasn't been a commercial interest on Wireless Power Transmission Systems. However, the past decade and more specially the last three years witnessed its resurgence not only in consumer electronics applications, but also in aerospace.\\
    	The long development cycles and high manufacturing costs in addition to the increment of missions and service satellites caused a growing interest in WPT in order to provide energy to them, rescue aged satellites and prolong their life.\\
    	Wireless transmission provides a feasible energy transfer method  at a wide range of distances making possible to establish point-to-point power connections from Earth to the space or the opposite way, between satellites, or even to the moon or mars colonies. \\
    	The applications are numerous: it will allow to separate the power supply from the rest of the spacecraft by locating a power source satellite with photo-voltaic cells in a different orbit or to carry out rescue/recuperation missions without the need of risky docking maneuvers. It can be used for beam momentum propulsion systems such as solar, laser or microwave-pushed sails, which allow the possibility of fuel-free propulsion in space, and for modular satellite network applications in fractionated spacecrafts, where Wireless Energy transfer becomes one of the key factors to deal with.\\
    	A study carried out between Technical University of Catalonia, Barcelona –Spain- (UPC) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston –US- which analyzes different WPT methods in free-space, namely:  Microwave Power Transfer, Laser Power Transfer, Witricity and Closed Brayton-Cycle Engines for its use in aerospace applications is reported here. \\
    	The study provides a complete behavioral model in which Matlab-Simulink environment where Wireless Power Transfer systems are designed, optimized, simulated and exhaustively compared considering efficiency, stability, mass and size of the transmission link, development and launchment costs, average life, development time and fault tolerance by analyzing each system separately with two different computer-aided techniques: Convex Optimization (in order to find the optimal figure of merit encompassing different performance indexes in the face of conflicting requirements such as lower mass, maximum stability and efficiency) and System/Circuit co-design.\\
    WPT systems are evaluated in both near and far-range for different power link constructions (e.g. number of elements to link, distance and pointing vectors between receiver and transmitter, power required) generating a complete model-based design, behavior definition and response to uncertainty changes (environmental or system parameters deviations). Thus, characterization and optimal range-applications for each WPT system are concluded.
    Abstract document


    Manuscript document