New Solar Panels Used on the International Space Station

New Solar Panels Used on the International Space Station


The International Space Station has been in orbit above the earth for decades. The power for the space station and the experiment on board comes from four pairs of solar cell arrays, with a design service life of 15 years. Since the deployment of the first pair of solar arrays in December 2000, these solar arrays have been in continuous operation. In September 2006, June 2007 and March 2009, several more arrays were put into service.
 
The first pair of solar arrays have provided power to the International Space Station for more than 20 years. NASA said that although its current operation was still good, there were signs of degradation. To ensure that sufficient power is maintained, NASA announced that new solar arrays would be provided for the six channels in the existing 8 power channels.
 
The Boeing Company is the main contractor for the operation of the space station. Its subsidiary company Spectrolab and main supplier Deployable Space Systems will provide new arrays, combining the original eight large arrays with a new, smaller, and more efficient array to make the power generation of the enhanced array is restored to the power generation when the original array was originally installed. This is equivalent to adding 20% to 30% of power for the research and operation of the space station.
 
The new solar array is a large-scale version of the roll-on-roll solar array technology successfully demonstrated in the space station test in June 2017. The new solar array will be placed in front of the existing 6 pairs of arrays and will use the existing solar tracking, power, and channel allocation. NASA pointed out that the length of the light receiving plate of the new array will be slightly longer than the existing array, and will be connected to the same power system to enhance the existing supply. The current array supplied for the International Space Station can generate up to 160 kilowatts of electricity during orbital daytime. About half of the electricity is stored in the space station's batteries for use when the space station is not under the sun.
 
The new solar panels will generate more than 20 kilowatts of electricity, eventually generating 120 kilowatts of additional electricity during the day. The remaining solar arrays and some of the original arrays will continue to generate approximately 95 kilowatts, providing a total power generation of 215 kilowatts. In the three replenishment missions that started this year, these solar arrays will be delivered to the International Space Station in pairs using the unpressurized trunks of the SpaceX "Dragon" cargo spacecraft. The installation will require spacewalks twice.