Two new, advanced solar arrays provided by Boeing have increased the International Space Station (ISS) power supply, following installation in June.
The solar arrays were installed over three spacewalks on June 16, 20 and 25 by European astronaut Thomas Pesquet and NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough.
Boeing’s new arrays contain stronger, more efficient solar cells than their predecessors. Measuring 61 feet long and 20 feet wide, they generate twice the power in half the space of the original arrays which they partially cover.
Boeing provided the new arrays to NASA, with solar cells from Spectrolab (manufacturer of fully integrated solar panels) and a structure from American aerospace manufacturer Redwire, that allowed the arrays to be rolled tight for launch and unroll with their own energy rather than requiring a motor.
Boeing developed the arrays to fold small enough to be packed on a space-rated pallet that fit inside the trunk of the SpaceX Cargo Dragon, which carried the arrays to the ISS. Once in orbit, the folded arrays were removed by the ISS’ robotic arm and positioned so the astronauts could take them out to the far end of the ISS truss for installation.
Four more arrays will be launched to ISS and installed over the next two years, providing a 20 to 30 per cent increase in power. This will support more scientific experiments, technology research and commercial pursuits in low Earth orbit.
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