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SBIR/STTR

Very Large Ultra-Lightweight Affordable Smart Solar Array, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Spacecraft for NASA, DoD and commercial missions need higher power, higher voltage, and much lower cost solar arrays to enable a variety of very high power missions. Power for these missions is envisioned to reach from 30kW-300kW in the near term and to 1MW in the future. Conventional solar arrays are simply not up to the challenge for many reasons. High efficiency, space-qualified solar cells are in themselves costly, > $250/Watt, and there is considerable additional cost associated with the large number of piece-parts and labor needed to assemble the cells into the Photovoltaic Assembly. The current approach has many assembly steps, and has evolved with only minor changes from solar arrays fabricated in the 1970s, sacrificing cost because of risk adverse incremental development. If a very low cost solar cell could be implemented, while being complemented by economical automated solar array integration processes, and having environmental durability, then extensive cost savings could be realized, thus enabling energy intensive next generation missions. The proposed innovation is a very low cost durable PVA which has integrated construction designed for manufacturability, and active array management for voltage and current regulation. By utilizing mature thin film CIGS technology, along with Vanguard proprietary coverglass replacement technology (CGR), and automated integration and lamination processes, an extremely thin flexible lightweight and low cost solar array can be realized. More »

Anticipated Benefits

Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

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Project Duration

Technology Maturity (TRL)

Technology Areas

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