High Efficiency Modular Solar Array (PDRT08-035-2)

Award Information
Department of Defense
Award Year:
Phase II
Award Id:
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
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Small Business Information
DR Technologies, Inc. (Currently Vanguard Space Technologies, Inc.)
9431 Dowdy Drive, San Diego, CA, -
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Nick Walmsley
Principal Investigator
(858) 444-1849
Business Contact:
Steven Sherman
VP, Business Administrati
(858) 587-4210
Research Institution:

ABSTRACT: This SBIR develops and fabricates flight-quality solar modules that utilize advanced thin-film photovoltaic devices for use in a potential flight experiment. The photovoltaic assembly design is based on previous work done by DRT with thin-film solar cells and features an integrated manufacturing approach, advanced covershield materials which replace traditional glass, and a novel interconnect method. The module size and configuration is designed to comprise a single string of solar cells and support typical spacecraft bus voltages. Modules are mounted to a frame which itself is mounted to the body of the spacecraft. All hardware will undergo partial protoqualification testing including vibration, thermal cycle, and thermal vacuum environments in preparation for integration with a spacecraft. DRT will support assembly, integration, and test of the integrated modular panels at the spacecraft level. BENEFIT: The thin-film photovoltaic cell offers several advantages over the industry-standard triple-junction cell. Its higher efficiency increases available power on solar arrays while simultaneously reducing mass. On an equivalent rigid panel substrate, the advanced photovoltaic array proposed here reduces mass by 30% and increases specific power by 58%. Thin-film photovoltaics are also flexible, potentially allowing arrays to be bent or rolled-up during launch, which could mean reduced stowed volume. All these benefits could have a profound effect on solar array design for every class of spacecraft, and potentially enable higher power missions that are not possible with current array technology. The modularity demonstrated in this program could also have a significant impact for spacecraft integrators, especially in the smallsat arena. Pre-fabricated modular arrays allow drastic reductions in NRE and delays during assembly, integration, and test as well. Improved delivery schedule, reduced cost per watt, and the ability to implement newer solar cell technologies on short notice are some additional benefits offered by standardization and modularity. Demonstration of plug-and-play modularity in ground and flight experiments will go a long way to garner recognition and acceptance for the technology in the space community.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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