How to Launch an NFT Project by Yourself
Creating 10,000 auto-generated artworks, deploying a smart contract to the Ethereum / Polygon blockchain, setting up some tools, etc.
There is so much to do from launching to running an NFT project. Creating parts for artworks, generating 10,000 unique artworks and metadata, creating a smart contract and deploying it to a blockchain network, creating a website, creating a Twitter account, setting up a Discord server, setting up an OpenSea collection. In addition, you need to have MetaMask installed in your browser and have some ETH / MATIC. Did you get tired of doing all this? Don’t worry, once you know what you need to do, all you have to do is do it one by one.
To be honest, it’s best to run an NFT project in a team of three or more, including artists, developers, and marketers. However, depending on your motivation, you can do it by yourself. Some people might come later to offer help with your project. The most important thing is to take a step as soon as possible.
Creating Parts for Artworks
There are lots of free/paid software for drawing, but after all, I think Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop is the best. The images of Skulls In Love are a composite of 48x48 pixel parts created using Photoshop.
The most important thing in creating parts for generative art is to repeatedly test what your artworks will look like after each layer has been combined. The generated artworks should not be too unnatural.
How Many Parts Should You Create?
Are you wondering how many parts you should create to avoid duplication as much as possible when generating your artworks? My friend Stephane, a developer, has created a great tool to help with that.
Generating 10,000 Unique Artworks and Metadata
I highly recommend using the HashLips Art Engine to generate your artworks and metadata. Perhaps there is no better artworks generation tool at the moment.
Storing Artworks and Metadata
Ideally, the generated artworks and metadata should be stored on-chain, but if you want to store them off-chain, you should use IPFS. Do not store in centralized storage. This is because data will be lost if the server goes down or if the company goes down. On the other hand, IPFS is a more secure way to find data because it utilizes a distributed, decentralized system.
Storing to IPFS is easy with Pinata, NFT.Storage, and so on. The Skulls In Love uses Pinata. It’s very easy to use, just upload the folder containing your artworks.
Creating and Deploying a Smart Contract
You don’t have to create a smart contract from scratch. There are many great NFT projects, many of which publish their contract source code on Etherscan / PolygonScan. You can choose the contract you like and reuse it. Of course, that requires some knowledge of Solidity, but it depends on your efforts. If you don’t know which contract to choose, use the HashLips smart contract. It’s very simple, but it has almost all the functions you need.
Note: Later on, you may want to change the cost value. You can change it on Remix or Etherscan / PolygonScan. But in this case, enter the Wei value instead of the Ether value. For example, if you want to sell for 1 MATIC, you have to enter “1000000000000000000”. If you set this value to “1”, you will have a nightmare. I recommend using Simple Unit Converter as a tool to calculate the Wei value.
Creating a Website
The website here is not just a static site to showcase your project, it’s a so-called dApp that allows you to access your smart contract and mint NFTs. In fact, this level of dApp is not too difficult for anyone who has ever created a website. Because the ethers.js / web3.js libraries make it easy to interact with your smart contract. There’s also no problem connecting wallets, as MetaMask has great documentation.
Why do people mint NFTs on a website?
Ethereum’s gas fees are high, so if you mint all your NFTs, there will be a huge initial cost. So it makes sense to get the buyers to help with the gas fees for minting.
What about Polygon? Polygon’s gas fees are super cheap, so even if you mint 10,000 NFTs, it’s not a big deal. But we don’t do that. Since NFT projects are a kind of game, it involves the fun of not knowing what will come out after minting.
Creating a Twitter Account
I highly recommend creating a Twitter account. Twitter is an indispensable tool for announcing giveaways and reaching more people. It’s better to announce your project and your artworks little by little, 1–2 weeks before launching your project.
Creating and Setting Up a Discord Server
I highly recommend creating a Discord server as well as a Twitter account. The Discord server is a community and its home. Fans of your NFT project will want to join your community and interact with many other members. So, carefully create each channel on your Discord server to make it a cozy place for your community members.
If you are unfamiliar with Discord, you may be particularly confused by the following:
What bots should I use?
How should I set roles and permissions?
But don’t worry. There are lots of great YouTube videos and blog posts about these.
It’s also a good idea to join the Discord servers of some NFT projects and see how they’re made. Our Discord server is so simple that even beginners will find it easy to understand. Please join us and see it!
Note: First, create a test account and a test server to make sure your bots and permissions work properly. It is better to verify the behavior on the test server before setting up your production server.
UPDATED: As your Discord server grows, you cannot manage it on your own. In this case, you will be hiring several moderators, but choose carefully before hiring. And don’t give them important role permissions right after hiring. Initially, the same permissions as other members are sufficient. After a while, you can add permissions as needed, such as kicking/banning, using the “@every” tag, and adding roles. Again, don’t immediately give significant permissions to your Mod role. Your server can be messed up by fake moderators.
Setting Up Your OpenSea Collection
Before you start selling your NFTs, you need to reserve some for airdrops, giveaways, staff, and more. It’s up to you whether it’s 100, 500, or how many.
After minting some of your NFTs, your account and collection should have been created in OpenSea. Go to OpenSea, connect to your wallet, and set up your collection. Just set your logo, banner image, description, links, royalties, and more. It’s not that difficult.
Promoting Your Project
After all, promotion is the most important thing. In fact, almost every successful NFT project spends a lot of time and effort on it.
DISBOARD is the public Discord server listing community.
You’ll probably get lots of contacts from promoters on your Discord, Twitter, Instagram, and more. But most of them are scams, so don’t pay right away. If you have a promoter that looks attractive to you, be sure to check the promoter’s social media accounts or website to see who he/she is. They basically charge in dollars. The amount they charge isn’t cheap, but promoters with lots of followers may have some temporary effect on your project. Some promoters accept 50% prepaid and 50% postpaid. If you can afford it, it might be worth a try. I never ask them, though.
When Should the Promotion Activities Start?
You may be worried that if you promote your project before it starts, someone will copy your project (artworks). It is true that some projects have actually suffered such damage. I don’t have a clear answer to this question right now, but:
- Do not publish all the information about your project too early
- The information should be released little by little
- Creating artworks that no one can easily copy
I think these are important.
If anyone has a good idea, please share it!
When hosting giveaways, you’ll probably use multiple social media platforms. You may want to grow your Discord server faster. But if joining the Discord server is included in the giveaway requirements, some people hate it. I recommend holding giveaways for each platform. On Twitter and Reddit, you should just add the words “Discord members-only giveaway is being held now! Please join us if you like!”.
If you want to easily pick a giveaway winner in your browser, I recommend Twitter Picker.
Precautions for Distributing Free NFTs
If you want to increase your Twitter followers and Discord members, you can actually get a lot of people by holding events such as giveaways and invite contests. However, distributing many free NFTs at once can be dangerous. Some people who want free NFTs, as soon as they get a free one, sell it at a very low price on marketplaces such as OpenSea. They don’t care about your project and are only thinking about replacing their own “free” NFTs with Ethereum. The lower the floor price of your NFTs, the lower the value of your NFTs (project). Try to think of ways to get people to “buy” your NFTs as much as possible.
Ethereum vs. Polygon
Even though Ethereum has high gas fees, NFT projects on the Ethereum network are still mainstream and popular. On the other hand, Polygon has very low gas fees and fast transaction processing, but NFT projects on the Polygon network are not very popular.
Why? There are several reasons, but the biggest one is that it’s a lot of work to get MATIC (on Polygon blockchain, use MATIC instead of ETH) ready to use. Simply put, you need to bridge your tokens to the Polygon chain. So people need to do this first before minting your NFTs on your website. It may not be a big deal for those who are familiar with crypto and blockchain, but it may be complicated for those who are not. I hope that the tedious work will be simplified in the near future.
If you are confident that your NFTs will be purchased even if they are expensive, or if the total supply of your NFTs is low, you may choose Ethereum. If you just want to save money, you should choose Polygon. Keep in mind that gas fees are incurred not only when minting, but also when performing some of your smart contract functions and when transferring your NFTs.
If I were to launch a new NFT project, I would probably choose Ethereum or Solana.
Some people may want to start an NFT project to make money, but don’t forget to enjoy your own project. Several months ago, I was playing with creating generative art by imitating the CryptoPunks. I found out that auto-generated artworks would be more interesting than I had imagined, and since then I’ve been completely absorbed in generative art.
This is one of the Skulls In Love artworks:
This character wears a cowboy hat, black slim sunglasses, and a kimono. If anyone looks like this, I can’t help laughing!
The Skulls In Love NFTs can be minted for a small amount of MATIC on the official website. Please give it a try to see what kind of unique characters will appear 💀💖
Thank you for reading to the end. I hope this article will be helpful to those who want to launch an NFT project in the future ✨
More on Web3 & Crypto
1 month ago
Failures of DCG and Genesis
Don't sleep with your own sister.
70% of lottery winners go broke within five years. You've heard the last one. People who got rich quickly without setbacks and hard work often lose it all. My father said, "Easy money is easily lost," and a wealthy friend who owns a family office said, "The first generation makes it, the second generation spends it, and the third generation blows it."
This is evident. Corrupt politicians in developing countries live lavishly, buying their third wives' fifth Hermès bag and celebrating New Year's at The Brando Resort. A successful businessperson from humble beginnings is more conservative with money. More so if they're atom-based, not bit-based. They value money.
Crypto can "feel" easy. I have nothing against capital market investing. The global financial system is shady, but that's another topic. The problem started when those who took advantage of easy money started affecting other businesses. VCs did minimal due diligence on FTX because they needed deal flow and returns for their LPs. Lenders did minimum diligence and underwrote ludicrous loans to 3AC because they needed revenue.
Alameda (hence FTX) and 3AC made "easy money" Genesis and DCG aren't. Their businesses are more conventional, but they underestimated how "easy money" can hurt them.
Genesis has been the victim of easy money hubris and insolvency, losing $1 billion+ to 3AC and $200M to FTX. We discuss the implications for the broader crypto market.
Here are the quick takeaways:
Genesis is one of the largest and most notable crypto lenders and prime brokerage firms.
DCG and Genesis have done related party transactions, which can be done right but is a bad practice.
Genesis owes DCG $1.5 billion+.
If DCG unwinds Grayscale's GBTC, $9-10 billion in BTC will hit the market.
DCG will survive Genesis.
Let's recap the FTX shenanigan from two weeks ago. Shenanigans! Delphi's tweet sums up the craziness. Genesis has $175M in FTX.
Cred's timeline: I hate bad crisis management. Yes, admitting their balance sheet hole right away might've sparked more panic, and there's no easy way to convey your trouble, but no one ever learns.
By November 23, rumors circulated online that the problem could affect Genesis' parent company, DCG. To address this, Barry Silbert, Founder, and CEO of DCG released a statement to shareholders.
A few things are confirmed thanks to this statement.
DCG owes $1.5 billion+ to Genesis.
$500M is due in 6 months, and the rest is due in 2032 (yes, that’s not a typo).
Unless Barry raises new cash, his last-ditch efforts to repay the money will likely push the crypto market lower.
Half a year of GBTC fees is approximately $100M.
They can pay $500M with GBTC.
With profits, sell another port.
Genesis has hired a restructuring adviser, indicating it is in trouble.
Every crypto problem in the past year seems to be rehypothecation between related parties, excessive leverage, hubris, and the removal of the money printer. The Bankless guys provided a chart showing 2021 crypto yield.
In June 2022, @DataFinnovation published a great investigation about 3AC and DCG. Here's a summary.
3AC borrowed BTC from Genesis and pledged it to create Grayscale's GBTC shares.
3AC uses GBTC to borrow more money from Genesis.
This lets 3AC leverage their capital.
3AC's strategy made sense because GBTC had a premium, creating "free money."
GBTC's discount and LUNA's implosion caused problems.
3AC lost its loan money in LUNA.
Margin called on 3ACs' GBTC collateral.
DCG bought GBTC to avoid a systemic collapse and a larger discount.
Genesis lost too much money because 3AC can't pay back its loan. DCG "saved" Genesis, but the FTX collapse hurt Genesis further, forcing DCG and Genesis to seek external funding.
Co-borrowing. Unnecessary rehypothecation. Extra space. Governance disaster. Greed, hubris. Crypto has repeatedly shown it can recreate traditional financial system disasters quickly. Working in crypto is one of the best ways to learn crazy financial tricks people will do for a quick buck much faster than if you dabble in traditional finance.
I think the crypto industry needs to consider its future. This is especially true for professionals. I'm not trying to scare you. In 2018 and 2020, I had doubts. No doubts now. Detailing the crypto industry's potential outcomes helped me gain certainty and confidence in its future. This includes VCs' benefits and talking points during the bull market, as well as what would happen if government regulations became hostile, etc. Even if that happens, I'm certain. This is permanent. I may write a post about that soon.
5 months ago
Nomad.xyz got exploited for $190M
Another hack. This time was different. This is a doozy.
Why? Nomad got exploited for $190m. It was crypto's 5th-biggest hack. Ouch.
It wasn't hackers, but random folks. What happened:
A Nomad smart contract flaw was discovered. They couldn't drain the funds at once, so they tried numerous transactions. Rookie!
People noticed and copied the attack.
They just needed to discover a working transaction, substitute the other person's address with theirs, and run it.
In a two-and-a-half-hour attack, $190M was siphoned from Nomad Bridge.
Nomad is a novel approach to blockchain interoperability that leverages an optimistic mechanism to increase the security of cross-chain communication. — nomad.xyz
This hack was permissionless, therefore anyone could participate.
After the fatal blow, people fought over the scraps.
Cross-chain bridges remain a DeFi weakness and exploit target. When they collapse, it's typically total.
Unbacked assets are hurting Nomad-dependent chains. Moonbeam, EVMOS, and Milkomeda's TVLs dropped.
This incident is every-man-for-himself, although numerous whitehats exploited the issue...
But what triggered the feeding frenzy?
How did so many pick the bones?
After a normal upgrade in June, the bridge's Replica contract was initialized with a severe security issue. The 0x00 address was a trusted root, therefore all messages were valid by default.
After a botched first attempt (costing $350k in gas), the original attacker's exploit tx called process() without first 'proving' its validity.
The process() function executes all cross-chain messages and checks the merkle root of all messages (line 185).
The upgrade caused transactions with a'messages' value of 0 (invalid, according to old logic) to be read by default as 0x00, a trusted root, passing validation as 'proven'
Any process() calls were valid. In reality, a more sophisticated exploiter may have designed a contract to drain the whole bridge.
Copycat attackers simply copied/pasted the same process() function call using Etherscan, substituting their address.
The incident was a wild combination of crowdhacking, whitehat activities, and MEV-bot (Maximal Extractable Value) mayhem.
For example, 🍉🍉🍉. eth stole $4M from the bridge, but claims to be whitehat.
Others stood out for the wrong reasons. Repeat criminal Rari Capital (Artibrum) exploited over $3M in stablecoins, which moved to Tornado Cash.
The top three exploiters (with 95M between them) are:
Here's a list of all the exploiters:
The project conducted a Quantstamp audit in June; QSP-19 foreshadowed a similar problem.
The auditor's comments that "We feel the Nomad team misinterpreted the issue" speak to a troubling attitude towards security that the project's "Long-Term Security" plan appears to confirm:
Concerns were raised about the team's response time to a live, public exploit; the team's official acknowledgement came three hours later.
"Removing the Replica contract as owner" stopped the exploit, but it was too late to preserve the cash.
Closed blockchain systems are only as strong as their weakest link.
The Harmony network is in turmoil after its bridge was attacked and lost $100M in late June.
What's next for Nomad's ecosystems?
Loss of confidence may do more damage than $190M.
Cross-chain infrastructure is difficult to secure in a new, experimental sector. Bridge attacks can pollute an entire ecosystem or more.
Nomadic liquidity has no permanent home, so consumers will always migrate in pursuit of the "next big thing" and get stung when attentiveness wanes.
DeFi still has easy prey...
Sources: rekt.news & The Milk Road.
Jeff John Roberts
7 months ago
Jack Dorsey and Jay-Z Launch 'Bitcoin Academy' in Brooklyn rapper's home
The new Bitcoin Academy will teach Jay-Marcy Z's Houses neighbors "What is Cryptocurrency."
Jay-Z grew up in Brooklyn's Marcy Houses. The rapper and Block CEO Jack Dorsey are giving back to his hometown by creating the Bitcoin Academy.
The Bitcoin Academy will offer online and in-person classes, including "What is Money?" and "What is Blockchain?"
The program will provide participants with a mobile hotspot and a small amount of Bitcoin for hands-on learning.
Students will receive dinner and two evenings of instruction until early September. The Shawn Carter Foundation will help with on-the-ground instruction.
Jay-Z and Dorsey announced the program Thursday morning. It will begin at Marcy Houses but may be expanded.
Jay-Z, Dorsey reunite
Jay-Z and Dorsey have previously worked together to promote a Bitcoin and crypto-based future.
In 2021, Dorsey's Block (then Square) acquired the rapper's streaming music service Tidal, which they propose using for NFT distribution.
Dorsey and Jay-Z launched an endowment in 2021 to fund Bitcoin development in Africa and India.
Dorsey is funding the new Bitcoin Academy out of his own pocket (as is Jay-Z), but he's also pushed crypto-related charitable endeavors at Block, including a $5 million fund backed by corporate Bitcoin interest.
This post is a summary. Read full article here
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1 month ago
ChatGPT Is Experiencing a Lightbulb Moment
Why breakthrough technologies must be accessible
ChatGPT has exploded. Over 1 million people have used the app, and coding sites like Stack Overflow have banned its answers. It's huge.
I wouldn't have called that as an AI researcher. ChatGPT uses the same GPT-3 technology that's been around for over two years.
More than impressive technology, ChatGPT 3 shows how access makes breakthroughs usable. OpenAI has finally made people realize the power of AI by packaging GPT-3 for normal users.
We think of Thomas Edison as the inventor of the lightbulb, not because he invented it, but because he popularized it.
Going forward, AI companies that make using AI easy will thrive.
Most modern AI systems use massive language models. These language models are trained on 6,000+ years of human text.
GPT-3 ate 8 billion pages, almost every book, and Wikipedia. It created an AI that can write sea shanties and solve coding problems.
Nothing new. I began beta testing GPT-3 in 2020, but the system's basics date back further.
Tools like GPT-3 are hidden in many apps. Many of the AI writing assistants on this platform are just wrappers around GPT-3.
Lots of online utilitarian text, like restaurant menu summaries or city guides, is written by AI systems like GPT-3. You've probably read GPT-3 without knowing it.
Why is ChatGPT so popular if the technology is old?
ChatGPT makes the technology accessible. Free to use, people can sign up and text with the chatbot daily. ChatGPT isn't revolutionary. It does it in a way normal people can access and be amazed by.
Accessibility isn't easy. OpenAI's Sam Altman tweeted that opening ChatGPT to the public increased computing costs.
Each chat costs "low-digit cents" to process. OpenAI probably spends several hundred thousand dollars a day to keep ChatGPT running, with no immediate business case.
Academic researchers and others who developed GPT-3 couldn't afford it. Without resources to make technology accessible, it can't be used.
This dynamic is old. In the history of science, a researcher with a breakthrough idea was often overshadowed by an entrepreneur or visionary who made it accessible to the public.
We think of Thomas Edison as the inventor of the lightbulb. But really, Vasilij Petrov, Thomas Wright, and Joseph Swan invented the lightbulb. Edison made technology visible and accessible by electrifying public buildings, building power plants, and wiring.
Edison probably lost a ton of money on stunts like building a power plant to light JP Morgan's home, the NYSE, and several newspaper headquarters.
People wanted electric lights once they saw their benefits. By making the technology accessible and visible, Edison unlocked a hugely profitable market.
Similar things are happening in AI. ChatGPT shows that developing breakthrough technology in the lab or on B2B servers won't change the culture.
AI must engage people's imaginations to become mainstream. Before the tech impacts the world, people must play with it and see its revolutionary power.
As the field evolves, companies that make the technology widely available, even at great cost, will succeed.
OpenAI's compute fees are eye-watering. Revolutions are costly.
Alana Rister, Ph.D.
4 days ago
Don't rely on lessons you learned with a small audience.
My growth-killing mistake
When you initially start developing your audience, you need guidance.
What does my audience like? What do they not like? How can I grow more?
When I started writing two years ago, I inquired daily. Taking cues from your audience to develop more valuable content is a good concept, but it's simple to let them destroy your growth.
A small audience doesn't represent the full picture.
When I had fewer than 100 YouTube subscribers, I tried several video styles and topics. I looked to my audience for what to preserve and what to change.
If my views, click-through rate, or average view % dropped, that topic or style was awful. Avoiding that style helped me grow.
Vlogs, talking head videos on writing, and long-form tutorials didn't fare well.
Since I was small, I've limited the types of films I make. I have decided to make my own videos.
Surprisingly, the videos I avoided making meet or exceed my views, CTR, and audience retention.
A limited audience can't tell you what your tribe wants. Therefore, limiting your innovation will prohibit you from reaching the right audience. Finding them may take longer.
Large Creators Experience The Same Issue
In the last two years, I've heard Vanessa Lau and Cathrin Manning say they felt pigeonholed into generating videos they didn't want to do.
Why does this happen over and over again?
Once you have a popular piece of content, your audience will grow. So when you publish inconsistent material, fewer of your new audience will view it. You interpret the drop in views as a sign that your audience doesn't want the content, so you stop making it.
Repeat this procedure a few times, and you'll create stuff you're not passionate about because you're frightened to publish it.
How to Manage Your Creativity and Audience Development
I'm not recommending you generate random content.
Instead of feeling trapped by your audience, you can cultivate a diverse audience.
Create quality material on a range of topics and styles as you improve. Be creative until you get 100 followers. Look for comments on how to improve your article.
If you observe trends in the types of content that expand your audience, focus 50-75% of your material on those trends. Allow yourself to develop 25% non-performing material.
This method can help you expand your audience faster with your primary trends and like all your stuff. Slowly, people will find 25% of your material, which will boost its performance.
How to Expand Your Audience Without Having More Limited Content
Follow these techniques to build your audience without feeling confined.
Don't think that you need restrict yourself to what your limited audience prefers.
Don't let the poor performance of your desired material demotivate you.
You shouldn't restrict the type of content you publish or the themes you cover when you have less than 100 followers.
When your audience expands, save 25% of your content for your personal interests, regardless of how well it does.
2 months ago
Can space-based solar power solve Earth's energy problems?
Better technology and lower launch costs revive science-fiction tech.
Airbus engineers showed off sustainable energy's future in Munich last month. They captured sunlight with solar panels, turned it into microwaves, and beamed it into an airplane hangar, where it lighted a city model. The test delivered 2 kW across 36 meters, but it posed a serious question: Should we send enormous satellites to capture solar energy in space? In orbit, free of clouds and nighttime, they could create power 24/7 and send it to Earth.
Airbus engineer Jean-Dominique Coste calls it an engineering problem. “But it’s never been done at [large] scale.”
Proponents of space solar power say the demand for green energy, cheaper space access, and improved technology might change that. Once someone invests commercially, it will grow. Former NASA researcher John Mankins says it might be a trillion-dollar industry.
Myriad uncertainties remain, including whether beaming gigawatts of power to Earth can be done efficiently and without burning birds or people. Concept papers are being replaced with ground and space testing. The European Space Agency (ESA), which supported the Munich demo, will propose ground tests to member nations next month. The U.K. government offered £6 million to evaluate innovations this year. Chinese, Japanese, South Korean, and U.S. agencies are working. NASA policy analyst Nikolai Joseph, author of an upcoming assessment, thinks the conversation's tone has altered. What formerly appeared unattainable may now be a matter of "bringing it all together"
NASA studied space solar power during the mid-1970s fuel crunch. A projected space demonstration trip using 1970s technology would have cost $1 trillion. According to Mankins, the idea is taboo in the agency.
Space and solar power technology have evolved. Photovoltaic (PV) solar cell efficiency has increased 25% over the past decade, Jones claims. Telecoms use microwave transmitters and receivers. Robots designed to repair and refuel spacecraft might create solar panels.
Falling launch costs have boosted the idea. A solar power satellite large enough to replace a nuclear or coal plant would require hundreds of launches. ESA scientist Sanjay Vijendran: "It would require a massive construction complex in orbit."
SpaceX has made the idea more plausible. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket costs $2600 per kilogram, less than 5% of what the Space Shuttle did, and the company promised $10 per kilogram for its giant Starship, slated to launch this year. Jones: "It changes the equation." "Economics rules"
Mass production reduces space hardware costs. Satellites are one-offs made with pricey space-rated parts. Mars rover Perseverance cost $2 million per kilogram. SpaceX's Starlink satellites cost less than $1000 per kilogram. This strategy may work for massive space buildings consisting of many identical low-cost components, Mankins has long contended. Low-cost launches and "hypermodularity" make space solar power economical, he claims.
Better engineering can improve economics. Coste says Airbus's Munich trial was 5% efficient, comparing solar input to electricity production. When the Sun shines, ground-based solar arrays perform better. Studies show space solar might compete with existing energy sources on price if it reaches 20% efficiency.
Lighter parts reduce costs. "Sandwich panels" with PV cells on one side, electronics in the middle, and a microwave transmitter on the other could help. Thousands of them build a solar satellite without heavy wiring to move power. In 2020, a team from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) flew on the Air Force's X-37B space plane.
NRL project head Paul Jaffe said the satellite is still providing data. The panel converts solar power into microwaves at 8% efficiency, but not to Earth. The Air Force expects to test a beaming sandwich panel next year. MIT will launch its prototype panel with SpaceX in December.
As a satellite orbits, the PV side of sandwich panels sometimes faces away from the Sun since the microwave side must always face Earth. To maintain 24-hour power, a satellite needs mirrors to keep that side illuminated and focus light on the PV. In a 2012 NASA study by Mankins, a bowl-shaped device with thousands of thin-film mirrors focuses light onto the PV array.
International Electric Company's Ian Cash has a new strategy. His proposed satellite uses enormous, fixed mirrors to redirect light onto a PV and microwave array while the structure spins (see graphic, above). 1 billion minuscule perpendicular antennas act as a "phased array" to electronically guide the beam toward Earth, regardless of the satellite's orientation. This design, argues Cash, is "the most competitive economically"
If a space-based power plant ever flies, its power must be delivered securely and efficiently. Jaffe's team at NRL just beamed 1.6 kW over 1 km, and teams in Japan, China, and South Korea have comparable attempts. Transmitters and receivers lose half their input power. Vijendran says space solar beaming needs 75% efficiency, "preferably 90%."
Beaming gigawatts through the atmosphere demands testing. Most designs aim to produce a beam kilometers wide so every ship, plane, human, or bird that strays into it only receives a tiny—hopefully harmless—portion of the 2-gigawatt transmission. Receiving antennas are cheap to build but require a lot of land, adds Jones. You could grow crops under them or place them offshore.
Europe's public agencies currently prioritize space solar power. Jones: "There's a devotion you don't see in the U.S." ESA commissioned two solar cost/benefit studies last year. Vijendran claims it might match ground-based renewables' cost. Even at a higher price, equivalent to nuclear, its 24/7 availability would make it competitive.
ESA will urge member states in November to fund a technical assessment. If the news is good, the agency will plan for 2025. With €15 billion to €20 billion, ESA may launch a megawatt-scale demonstration facility by 2030 and a gigawatt-scale facility by 2040. "Moonshot"