The Sun Flower proposal is responsive to SubTopic H5.01 Materials, Materials Research, Structures, and Assembly: Lunar Surface Solar Array Structures, and addresses NASA’s need for “structural and mechanical innovations for 10 kW relocatable solar arrays near the South Pole for powering in situ resource utilization (ISRU) equipment, lunar bases, dedicated power landers and rovers.” We propose an effort to define and mature the TRL of a lunar power capture and storage system, suitable for the support of landers and rovers in virtually any type of lunar terrain, including PSRs in polar latitudes. The Sun Flower system architecture provides high duty cycle solar power by using low mass deployable towers to elevate solar reflectors above topographic features.
The key objective of this focus area is to provide simultaneous power generation in PSRs. Each Sun Flower tower will support a reflector of a mass value optimized for the tower’s height, which redirects solar energy to the lunar surface to be collected. The Sun Flower system is flexibly designed, from a 10 meter tower prototype for testing in Earth’s gravity, to towers optimized for the lunar surface of heights ranging from 100 to 800 meters. The array will utilize UltraFlex technology for deployment.
Our goal as a Phase I effort is to identify the key systems and hardware required to demonstrate the Sun Flower’s structural deployment. Our team proposes three primary technical objectives as proposed deliverables. First, a comprehensive design and analysis package will be delivered for a full-scale lunar power generating system. Second, a prototype build of a modular section of the tower’s design will be fabricated and assembled. Finally, we propose a functional test of the modular section’s deployment. Our goal for this demonstration as part of our Phase 1 effort is to construct a system capable of being tested in an Earth gravity environment to demonstrate the design concept’s deployment and retractibility.
The Sun Flower system will benefit the Artemis program by providing a consistent source of power generation, specifically in critical PSRs. This will be a necessity in supporting key operations of the program, including rovers, ice mining, and landers. This effort will advance the TRL of these technologies and provide a path toward efficient lunar missions starting in 2028 without dependencies on high cost, high mass power generation approaches.
The efficient power generation offered by the Sun Flower will be a valuable commodity to commercial operations on the Moon, including tourism and resource extraction. The low-mass towers will lower the cost of supplying power to such commercial operations. We are currently working with Blue Origin, who intends to buy lunar water made possible by TransAstra's Sun Flower and mining systems.