Watch how this solar array will boost the International Space Station’s power capacity


From pv magazine USA

The latest SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft left NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 3, carrying more than 7,300 pounds of science experiments as well as new solar arrays for the International Space Station (ISS).

The resupply mission will deliver a new ISS Roll-out Solar Array (iROSA), produced by Redwire, to the space station in the trunk of the Dragon spacecraft. After the Dragon docks to the space station’s Harmony module, the robotic Canadarm2 will extract two arrays, the first of six arrays to be delivered to the station. Astronauts will install them during spacewalks planned for June 16 and 20. The power upgrade costs around $100 million.

Using solar cells from Boeing’s subsidiary Spectrolab, each iROSA assembly will provide more than 28 kW of power at beginning of life. Combined, the six new arrays will produce more than 120 kW, boosting the space station’s power-generating capability by 20-30%.


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The SpaceX mission carrying the new solar arrays launched on June 3.Image: NASA

The iROSA technology is based on a previous demonstration of roll-out panels performed on the station in 2017. Redwire said the array’s design uses composite booms to serve as both the primary structural elements and the deployment actuator. These are paired with a modular photovoltaic blanket assembly.

Instead of using motors for deployment, iROSA uses stored energy from carbon fiber booms that are cut and rolled back against their natural shape for storage. When it is time for them to be deployed, the stored strain energy of the booms enforces the unrolling deployment actuation. When fully deployed, the now-rigid booms provide the solar arrays’ structural stiffness and strength.

The new solar arrays will be attached at a slight angle to an outboard set of the lab’s existing arrays to provide additional power, helping make up for age-related degradation. While the new panels are smaller than the originals, they produce more power.

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