Advanced Solar Array to Power Electric Propulsion Systems
- Created: Saturday, 01 December 2007
Stretched Lens Array
ENTECH has been awarded a contract from NASA’s Glenn Research Center, which will support the development of an advanced solar array for powering advanced electric propulsion systems in future space missions. The Stretched Lens Array (SLA) is an ultra-light, ultra-high-performance solar array technology.
The SLA offers advances in many performance parameters, including power-to-mass ratio, power-to-area ratio, high-power capacity, high-voltage capacity, radiation-hardness, and economy. The new technology concentrates sunlight, thus requiring 85 percent less material per Watt of power than conventional solar arrays. The SLA can also provide about five times more power per kilogram than solar arrays used today on geostationary- orbiting communications satellites.
The SLA is an ideal power source for advanced electric thrusters, which are more fuel-efficient than conventional chemical rockets. The combination of a high-performance solar array with fuel-efficient electric thrusters is called Solar Electric Propulsion, which could be used to propel space tugs carrying cargo from the Earth to the Moon or Mars.
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