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Power-Scalable Inflation-Deployed Solar Arrays

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In 1999, DARPA contracted LGarde, Inc. to develop an ultra low-mass solar array for rapid deployment micro satellites. The results of that effort yielded a high performance design that was tested up to a flight demonstration and outperformed competing designs in power density 65.4 Wkg at 274 W and stowed volume 0.04 cubic meters. However, this design lacked the ability to scale the power level beyond 1 kW. Recently there have been significant advances in the area of inflatable-rigidizable space structures. The purpose of the most recent investigation was to develop a scalable version of the technology leveraging the previously proven design with revolutionary inflatable technology to produce a solar array that will be adaptable to any micro satellite mission and beyond. The methods of the most recent investigation involved analysis, fabrication, and tests. The result is a design ready to move to the next phase with power density performance better than two times that of the state of the art 115 Wkg at 1250 W while utilizing existing solar cell technology. This performance level should be attractive to anyone interested in lowering the cost and increasing the reliability of their mission. The new structural technology will lend itself to a wide range of applications. This work is the result of a phase I contract that was performed for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency DARPA under SBIR funding.

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  • Electric Power Production and Distribution
  • Unmanned Spacecraft

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