NASA will deploy a new solar power generator prototype on the first 2020 NASA flight launch to the International Space Station. The generator is developed by a team at Ben-Gurion University. It is a compact, microconcentrator photovoltaic system which can supply unprecedented watt per kilogram of power. It is especially critical with lowering costs for private space flight.
Reports allege the total cost of launch are decreasing and solar power systems thus represent a greater fraction than the total system cost. Furthermore, optical concentration can also enhance the efficiency, in addition to minimizing the photovoltaic power costs. The generators have however been too bulky traditionally, in addition to being large and thus inappropriate for space use.
The first-generation prototype which is 1.7mm wide has been developed in collaboration with Prof. (Emer.) Jeffrey Gordon of the BGU Alexandre Yersin Department of Solar Energy and Environmental Physics, Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research. The prototype is only slightly thicker than a sheet of paper (.10mm) and slightly larger than a U.S. quarter.
“These results lay the groundwork for future space microconcentrator photovoltaic systems and establish a realistic path to exceed 350 w/kg specific power at more than 33% power conversion efficiency by scaling down to even smaller microcells,” according to a statement released by researchers with regards to the latest development.
These could even work as a drop-in replacement for the current space solar cells, in addition to being available at a lower cost.
Reports allege, a second generation of more enhanced solar cells are fabricated at the U.S. Naval Research Labs. These are only 0.17 mm per side, 1.0mm thick and will also foster specific power. On its successful completion, the future arrays can be undertaken for private space initiatives along with space agencies trying for new missions which need high power for electrical propulsion and deep space missions, along with Saturn and Jupiter.