Space

August 10, 2012

Here comes the sun: NASA picks solar array system development proposals

NASA’s Space Technology Program has selected Deployable Space Systems of Goleta, Calif. and ATK Space Systems Inc., of Commerce, Calif., for contract negotiation to develop advanced solar array systems.

High-power solar electric propulsion, where the power is generated with advanced solar array systems, is a key capability required for extending human presence throughout the solar system.

The selected proposals offer innovative approaches to the development of next-generation, large-scale solar arrays and associated deployment mechanisms. These advanced solar arrays will drastically reduce weight and stowed volume when compared to current systems. They also will significantly improve efficiency and functionality of future systems that will produce hundreds of kilowatts of power. These advanced solar arrays could be used in future NASA human exploration and science missions, communications satellites and a majority of other future spacecraft applications.

“The technology embodied in these proposals will greatly advance the boundaries of NASA’s science and exploration capabilities,” said Michael Gazarik, director of NASA’s Space Technology Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Our investment in this technology acknowledges that this technology is a priority for NASA’s future missions, as reported recently by the National Research Council. Once matured through these ground tests, NASA hopes to test next generation solar array systems in space, opening the door for exploration of a near-Earth asteroid, Mars and beyond.”

This solicitation involved a competitive selection process and covers two acquisition phases. Under Phase 1, Deployable Space Systems and ATK Space Systems will develop their solar array system technology during the next 18 months. With successful completion of Phase 1 the two companies, as well as other offerors who can demonstrate a comparable degree of technical maturity, will compete for a Phase 2 award to demonstrate their technologies in space. The intent of Phase 2 is to prove flight readiness through an in-space demonstration of an advanced, modular and extendable solar array system.

During Phase 1, Deployable Space Systems and ATK Space Systems also will design, analyze and test a scalable solar array system capable of generating more than 30kW of Power. In addition, the Phase 1 teams will identify the most critical technological risks of extending their concept to 250kW or greater power levels.

Phase 1 awards range between approximately $5 million and $7 million. NASA’s Game Changing Development Program Office, located at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., sponsored this solicitation under Phase 1. NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland will manage the awarded contracts for the agency’s Space Technology Program.

NASA’s Space Technology Program is innovating, developing, testing, and flying hardware for use in NASA’s future science and exploration missions. NASA’s technology investments provide cutting-edge solutions for our nation’s future.

 

 




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