NSS Pays Tribute to Space Based Solar Power Pioneer Peter Glaser
Sep 25, 1923 - May 29, 2014
(Washington, DC -- June 13, 2014)
Long-time NSS Board of Governors member envisioned Space Solar Power.
The National Space Society pays its respects to Dr. Peter Glaser, who in the late 1960s envisioned a way to harness limitless solar power in space and transmit it for use on Earth via low-density microwaves. This was a notion so intriguing that the government spent $20 million studying it in the Department of energy. He served as a long-term member of the NSS Board of Governors. In a 1995 conversation with NSS Director Karen Mermel, Peter expressed his gratitude for the effort of the National Space Society in promoting his ideas. He died on May 29 at his home in Lexington, Massachusetts. He was 90.
Peter Edward Glaser was born on Sept. 5, 1923, in Zatec, Czechoslovakia. In the late 1930s his family fled to England, and he became a tank commander with the Free Czechoslovak Army during World War II. He attended Leeds College of Technology in England after the war before his family returned to Prague. In 1948 he immigrated to the United States, where he earned graduate degrees in mechanical engineering at Columbia, including his doctorate in 1955.
Dr. Glaser himself proposed only a conceptual plan, tantalizing many people with an article he wrote for Science magazine in November 1968 titled "Power From the Sun: Its Future." In a 1994 oral history, Peter recalled the story: "I did not say, 'That's what it'll look like.' I said: 'Here is a concept. Think of the functions that I am talking about.' And none of the things that I thought in 1968 was so outlandish that people couldn't say, 'Well, yeah, we probably could do something like that.' And that's all I had in mind."
Dr. Glaser worked for the Arthur D. Little management-consulting company from 1955 to 1999, becoming a vice president. As a private engineering consultant, he developed experiments for the Apollo mission that put a man on the Moon in 1969. However, space solar power was his lifelong passion. He was in service to humankind. He served on numerous solar power and space exploration boards and committees. After the Department of Energy ended its space solar power study in 1978, he formed SUNSAT Energy Council, a nonprofit organization that promoted space solar power internationally through a relationship with the United Nations.
Dr. Glaser Demonstrating Space Solar Power Concepts. Courtesy PBS.
Today, NSS is vigorously promoting Space Solar Power. We are engaging with the international community via collaborations with Dr. Kalam of India and others, tracks at our annual International Space Development Conference, and articles in Ad Astra and in major international publications. NSS volunteers today maintain the world's largest online library on Space Solar Power in carrying forward Dr. Glaser's vision.
About the National Space Society (NSS): NSS is an independent nonprofit educational membership organization dedicated to the creation of a spacefaring civilization. NSS is widely acknowledged as the preeminent citizen's voice on space, with over 50 chapters in the United States and around the world. The Society publishes Ad Astra magazine, an award-winning periodical chronicling the most important developments in space. To learn more, visit www.nss.org.