|Server Sky is a proposal to build
large dispersed arrays of 3 gram paper-thin solar-powered computer
satellites and launch them into 6400km earth orbit.
Thinsat arrays use unlimited space solar power and operate
outside the biosphere. The environmental impact of power
generation and heat disposal is tiny. Earth can return to what it
is good at – green and growing things – while space can be filled
with gray and computing things.
Besides the presentation of the overall system, we will discuss
the astronomical and ecological consequences of very large solar
collectors in orbit, and how Server Sky will minimize or eliminate
Keith Lofstrom (http://www.keithl.com/) is a mixed-signal
integrated circuit designer in Beaverton, Oregon. He is CEO of
SiidTech, which licenses silicon identification technology. He is
active in the open source community, and has a special interest in
low power, high efficiency computing.
Keith has written for Kluwer Press, various IEEE journals, SysAdmin magazine, Liberty magazine, aerospace journals, and
It is easier to move bits than
atoms or energy.
Server Sky thinsats are ultralight films of glass that convert
sunlight into computation and communications. Powered by solar
cells, propelled and steered by light pressure, networked and
located by microwaves, and cooled by radiation into deep space.
Arrays of tens of thousands of thinsats act as highly redundant
computation and database servers, as well as phased array antennas
to reach thousands of transceivers on the ground.
Traditional data centers consume almost 3% of US electrical power,
and this fraction is growing rapidly. Server arrays in orbit can
grow to virtually unlimited computation power, communicate with
the whole world, pay for themselves with electricity savings, and
greatly reduce pollution and resource usage in the biosphere.
The goal is an energy and space launch growth path that follows
Moore's Law, with the cost of energy and launch halving every two
years. Server Sky may cost two to ten times as much as
ground-based computation in 2015, but is may cost 100 times less
in 2035. The computation growth driven by Moore's Law is solving
difficult problems from genetics to improved manufacture for
If Server Sky and Moore's Law can do the same for
clean energy, we can get rid of the carbon fuel plants, undam the
rivers, and reduce atmospheric CO2 far sooner than we had dared
hope. Energy production systems based on manual manufacturing,
human construction assembly, and the use of terrestrial land,
biological habitat, and surface water, packaged to survive
weather, gravity, and corrosion, cannot grow at the same rate as
For more information see his
The most likely technical showstopper
is radiation damage.
The most likely
Working together, we
can fix the latter.
And if you want to check out his
really cool proposal on launching stuff into orbit: