In 2010, the NASA Authorization Act and the U.S. National Space Policy drafted goals to send humans to Mars in the 2030s. This direction resulted in renewed studies, specifically by the multidisciplinary Collaborative Modeling for Parametric Assessment of Space Systems (COMPASS) at NASA Glenn Research Center, to determine the required systems to support various potential manned mission scenarios. To support manned operations, a large power generation capability, on the order of 40kW, is required with the ability to be modular, autonomous, and reconfigurable to respond to any mission design. The design trade study between solar versus fission power generation technology showed that, depending on the mission, the solar array option could be the more cost effective and mass efficient solution. The proposed META is an innovative deployable solar array technology that clearly responds to the subtopic, NASA missions, and NASA programmatic needs. As concluded in the numerous Mars mission design studies, there is a need to mature the notional concepts to determine if the requirements can be satisfied. Preliminary design efforts indicate that the META approach addresses all stated requirements with a feasible path towards meeting those goals.
In addition to Mars terrestrial solar arrays, META has Earth terrestrial applications including austere military operations, remote industrial operations such as mining, disaster relief, and temporary or seasonal dwellings such as yurts. During this SBIR effort we will focus on aerospace and military applications by engaging with Lockheed Martin. LoadPath has an existing working relationship with Lockheed Martin and will continually interact with them during the Phase I and Phase II efforts to assure a clear technology transition path. A Mars surface solar array alone is not a significant market; however, META's extended Earth terrestrial applications including military operations, mining, disaster relief, and portable consumer power products create a sufficient market to warrant the development investment.