To meet NASA’s need for compact, low-cost and autonomous deployable solar array systems to support near-term Lunar and future Martian exploration objectives, Roccor proposes to continue developing the Articulating Solar Panel Energy (ASPEN) system by replacing the z-folded membrane PV blanket baselined for use in the CTSA architecture with an array of discrete modular thin-substrate solar panels supported by cables to enable panel articulation in unison much like “Venetian blind” blades. Significant advantages of articulated PV panels include more efficient power generation, lower procurement costs, and reduced mass and stowed volume.
The ASPEN array technology is compatible with all central-column-tensioned-membrane solar array architectures including Lockheed’s Flexible Substrate Solar Array (FSSA), Roccor’s Flexible Substrate Resilient Array (FSRA), and NASA’s CTA/CTSA. Key improvements and advantages of the proposed Phase II ASPEN technology include:
Roccor’s proposed Phase II program would deliver a sub-scale engineering demonstration unit of the ASPEN technology for application to both lunar and Martian surface operations.
The proposed ASPEN technology is highly modular and applicable to a wide range of use cases, including not only Lunar and Martian surface arrays, but also satellite arrays. NASA recently unveiled a new campaign to return to the Moon, and eventually Mars. All of these exploration missions will require higher performance power generation systems. This Exploration Initiative presents a significant opportunity for Roccor to infuse the ASPEN solar array technology into a wide range of missions.
ASPEN’s attributes will attract interest from the commercial satellite industry. This industry is trending towards higher through-put platforms (i.e., more power-hungry buses and payloads) and all-electric propulsion (SEP) for lower-cost orbital transfer and station keeping. Both trends bode well for adoption of next-generation solar arrays like the ASPEN array.