NASA has been spearheading the strategy to develop a robust and advanced space infrastructure that, in the foreseeable future, could support the extensive exploration of the solar system and render human presence in space sustainable and affordable. One of the key technologies in this drive is solar electric propulsion (SEP), a technology with a mass efficiency an order of magnitude higher than conventional chemical engines. SEP which has already supported some missions (e.g., Deep Space 1 in 1998 and Dawn in 2007) will revolutionize navigation (i.e., velocity change, orbit revision) capabilities for spacecraft of traditional architectures. However, to be powerful enough to support equipment on a scale necessary for the infrastructure behind human presence is space, SEP has to be scaled up which directly requires solar arrays capable of producing up to 1~MW of power, the long term goal targeted by this NASA solicitation. It is this future market (currently) driven by NASA for large solar arrays that the product developed by the presently proposed effort targets.
For the large solar array structure here proposed, markets other than what has just been outlined will also arise. Some non-scientific space applications such as defense (the military use of space) and planetary defense (defending Earth against impact by space objects such as asteroids) have traditionally time and again entertained power-hungry mission scenarios. With the actual availability of a light weight, reliable, and easily scalable truly large solar array such as the one herein proposed, actual needs for this product in these additional markets will certainly arise.