NASA selects Solestial for space solar array

Nov. 9, 2023
The 18-month SBIR Phase II contract will provide funds to support development of next generation, 50-kilowattclass solar array wings.

TEMPE, Ariz., - Solestial, Inc. in Tempe, Arizona announced that it has been awarded $849,954 for a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The winning proposal titled, Next Generation Silicon Based Solar Arrays for Space Stations and Other Permanent Space Infrastructure, comes on the heels of a $149,987 Phase I contract in January 2023.

The 18-month SBIR Phase II contract will provide funds to support development of next generation, 50-kilowatt (kW) class solar array wings. Solestial's silicon solar blanket technology will allow for arrays larger than any ever built, while also maintaining lower mass and competitive efficiency. The array will be developed in collaboration with Opterus Research & Development,  who will develop a low-cost, novel deployment system for Solestial's ultrathin, flexible, silicon solar blankets.

Solestial's contract-winning proposal focuses on integrating its ultrathin, low mass, radiation-hardened solar blankets with Opterus' patent pending Retractable-Rollable Mast Array advanced deployable solar array structure. The R-ROMA is a highly scalable tensioned solar blanket array with double z-folding panels deployed by a single state-of-the-art rollable composite boom. The partnership between Solestial and Opterus will marry the two technologies to overcome the size, cost, and mass limitations of existing solar array technologies. Ultimately, Solestial hopes to achieve 50 kW scale and 200 W/kg array-level specific power while simultaneously reducing costs and scaling manufacturing potential.

Solestial's Phase I SBIR Ignite contract made it possible to develop the critical technologies required to create a working prototype of the silicon blanket technology. The Phase II award will fund a full-size 50 kW solar array design and space testing of a scaled model.

"The private space stations and lunar bases of tomorrow will require a tremendous amount of power, and currently, there are no affordable and scalable space solar technologies that can accommodate this demand," said Stan Herasimenka, Solestial Co-Founder and CEO. "Our affordable and low-mass solar blankets will help to overcome size, cost, and manufacturing limitations to power large-scale spacecraft and surface infrastructure. We're excited to work with Opterus to make this vision a reality."

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