The new SLA will apply to a wide range of NASA missions, most of which use solar power. The new SLA's superior attributes include scalability to high power, radiation hardness at low mass penalty, reliable high-voltage operation, outstanding power metrics (specific power, areal power density, and stowed power volume), high beta-angle tolerance, and low cost per Watt. These attributes will be especially important for high-power Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) missions. The high unit cost (e.g., >$10/sq.cm.) of advanced multi-junction solar cells (e.g., IMM cells), may make conventional one-sun solar arrays too expensive for very high-power NASA missions, such as, for example, 300-600 kW SEP tugs to carry large amounts of cargo from low earth orbit (LEO) to GEO, the Earth-Moon Lagrange Points, lunar orbit, Mars orbit, or beyond. For such high-power missions, the new SLA could be mission-enabling because of its much lower cost per Watt, combined with its superior performance attributes, compared to one-sun arrays. Because of its typical 4X concentration, the new SLA also offers much better low-intensity, low-temperature (LILT) performance than one-sun arrays for outer planet missions. The new SLA is also high-temperature-capable, allowing inner planet missions or slingshot trajectories to the outer planets. Potential NASA customers of the new SLA therefore include the Space Technology Directorate, the Science Directorate, and the Human Exploration and Operations Directorate.
The new SLA will apply to a wide range of non-NASA space missions, most of which use solar power. The new SLA's superior attributes include specific power (W/kg), stowed power density (kW/cu.m.), areal power density (W/sq.m.), high-voltage operation, radiation hardness, high sun-pointing tolerance, and low cost per Watt, all critical to non-NASA customers including established space companies (e.g., Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Space Systems Loral, Orbital Sciences, et al.), the U.S. DOD (USAF, MDA, et al.), and newer entries into the space business (e.g., Planetary Resources, Bigelow, Ad Astra Rocket Company, SpaceX, et al.). The U.S. DOD is particularly interested in rad-hard arrays, which led them to fund the SCARLET array that flew on Deep Space 1 in 1998-2001 and the Stretched Lens Array Technology Experiment (SLATE) which flew on TacSat 4. The new SLA will offer excellent rad-hardness as well as hardness against other potential threats (e.g., ground-based lasers), and will be more widely applicable to more DOD missions with its new high-beta-angle-tolerance. The new SLA will also be ideally suited to Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) missions, including orbit-raising (e.g., LEO-to-GEO for communication satellites), asteroid mining (as planned by Planetary Resources), drag compensation (for inflated space stations in LEO as planned by Bigelow), and multi-hundred-kW spacecraft (as planned by Ad Astra). Our team (DSS, SolAero-Emcore, QioptiQ, and CFE) looks forward to Phase II.