WASHINGTON — Northrop Grumman Corp. announced it will provide up to $17.5 million over the next three years to support the Space Solar Power Initiative at Caltech.

The initiative will perform work in the areas of high-efficiency photovoltaics, space structures and power transmission that could be applicable to future space systems that collect sunlight and convert it into power transmitted back to Earth.

“By working together with Caltech, Northrop Grumman extends its long heritage of innovation in space-based technologies and mission solutions,” Joseph Ensor, Northrop Grumman vice president and general manager of space intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems, said in an April 20 statement. “The potential breakthroughs from this research could have extensive applications across a number of related power use challenges.”

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...