Opterus Research and Development, Inc. proposes to develop solar array blanket technologies suitable for solar electric propulsion (SEP) missions. The technologies will address NASA’s needs for increased power, modularity to reduce cost, high voltage operation, and operation in a SEP environment. The work will further enable high reliability and compact stowage in a design that provides sufficient stiffness to minimize adverse spacecraft dynamics issues.
The proposed technologies are applicable to all blanket solar arrays. Blanket solar arrays have emerged as the leading contender for moderate to high-power missions and even low power missions due to their mass efficiency and small stowed volume. NASA has several missions under consideration that use electric propulsion and require high power solar arrays. It is a key technology for NASA’s long-term Mars objectives, both getting to Mars with SEP and providing power as a Mars surface solar array.
The proposed technology has a broad range of applications. GEO communications and radar platforms require power levels exceeding 20 kW and blanket solar arrays are often considered. Besides the specializations required for SEP, the requirements of the proposed technologies overlap the needs of high power communications system. Both need high reliability, compact storage, low cost, and light weight