U.S. Naval Academy project: Beam power from space to forward operating bases

Posted May 11, 2015 at 7:59pm

The U.S. Naval Academy received Boeing’s 2015 Service Academy Capstone Project Competition award May 7 with its idea to power forward operating bases with improved efficiency, better energy storage and energy beamed down from power plants in low-Earth orbit.  

Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy award winning team with their trophy for the 2015 Academy Capstone Competition. The team designed an orbital power station that would provide energy independence for forward operating bases by 2040. Boeing photo
Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy award winning team with their trophy for the 2015 Academy Capstone Competition. The team designed an orbital power station that would provide energy independence for forward operating bases by 2040. Boeing photo

The Naval Academy bested teams from West Point and the U.S. Air Force Academy with its idea, but as the team lead said, “It’s not just about the project, but about the education.”  

Beyond the technical feasibility of putting a power station on-orbit by 2040, Naval Academy team members highlighted aspects of what they had learned from the competition that they will carry into future leadership roles. During their presentation to Boeing leadership, the students explained the difficulty of integration; how teams can often fall short of their own lofty expectations; and how project management – especially among various disciplines – requires thoughtful collaboration.  

The Capstone competition focuses on “project-based learning” to enrich the educational experiences of students at the U.S. service academies. Boeing has sponsored the competition since 2010, providing training and mentors throughout each year’s project development, and will soon identify the Capstone challenge for 2016.  

Chris Chadwick, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, offered congratulations to all of the midshipmen and cadets who will be graduating this month from the service academies. “We thank you for your service and wish you all much success in your military careers,” Chadwick said.