Origami-Inspired Solar Array Prototype to Power Space Stations
Working with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and world-renowned origami expert Robert Lang, a team of Brigham Young University (BYU) mechanical engineering students and faculty have designed a solar array that can be tightly compacted for launch and then deployed in space to generate power for space stations or satellites. Applying origami principles on rigid silicon solar panels – a material much thicker than the paper used for the traditional Japanese art – the BYU-conceived solar array can be folded tightly down to a diameter of 2.7 meters and unfolded to its full size of 25 meters across. The goal is to create an array that can produce 250 kilowatts of power. Currently, the International Space Station has eight solar arrays that generate 84 kilowatts of energy.