The new array will apply to a wide range of NASA missions, most of which use solar power. The new array's superior attributes include LILT-mitigation, 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), and low cost per Watt. The LILT mitigation will be ideal for deep space missions to the outer planets and their moons. These other attributes will be especially important for high-power missions of all types, including 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 array could be mission-enabling because of its much lower cost per Watt, combined with its superior performance attributes, compared to one-sun arrays. The new array is also high-temperature-capable, allowing inner planet missions or slingshot trajectories to the outer planets. Potential NASA customers of the new array therefore include the Space Technology Directorate, the Science Directorate, and the Human Exploration and Operations Directorate.
The new array will apply to a wide range of non-NASA space missions, most of which use solar power. The new array'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, and low cost per Watt, all critical to non-NASA customers including established space companies (e.g., Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Space Systems Loral, Orbital-ATK, 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 array will offer excellent rad-hardness as well as hardness against other potential threats (e.g., ground-based lasers). The new array 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 (Mark O'Neill, LLC, University of Connecticut, and SolAero) is ready to address these applications.