Under the Space Technology Program, two Californian companies will work to create solar array systems for NASA.
Deployable Space Systems (DSS) and ATK Space Systems will collaborate to develop advanced models of solar arrays which will generate power for use in high-power solar electric propulsion. The systems will be used in a variety of NASA’s operations, including communication satellites and manned or unmanned space missions.
It is expected that advanced solar arrays will not only reduce weight but will also allow for more efficient power distribution throughout future systems.
"The technology embodied in these proposals will greatly advance the boundaries of NASA's science and exploration capabilities," says Michael Gazarik, director of NASA's Space Technology Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Our investment in this technology acknowledges that this technology is a priority for NASA's future missions, as reported recently by the National Research Council. Once matured through these ground tests, NASA hopes to test next generation solar array systems in space, opening the door for exploration of a near-Earth asteroid, Mars and beyond."
In a two-stage development program, DSS and ATK will first design, analyze, and test a dynamically scalable solar array setup that can produce more than 30 kilowatts of power. They will also explore ways to safely expand to 250 kilowatts and beyond. This stage features awards between $5 and $7 million, Military and Aerospace Electronics says.
The second stage involves field-tests and an in-space showcasing of the complete system.
Funding for the project comes from the NASA Game Changing Development Program Office at Langley, while the Cleveland-based Glenn Research Center will manage the contracts.