U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Shuttle Astronauts to Boost Solar Power for the Space Station
August 30, 2006
Tropical storm Ernesto has delayed the scheduled August 27th launch of space shuttle Atlantis indefinitely, but when the space shuttle is rolled back to
the launch pad and launched into space, it will be carrying a valuable
cargo of solar power systems for the International Space Station
(ISS). The space shuttle will carry two rolled-up "blankets" of solar
cells that together can generate nearly 66 kilowatts of power, enough
to nearly double the power available for the ISS. The astronauts will
install a rotary joint to hold the solar arrays and in the following
days will unroll the blankets to form two solar array wings with a
total length of 240 feet.
This solar array blanket will be carried to the International Space Station when space shuttle Atlantis launches.
Credit: Russ Underwood, Lockheed Martin Space Systems
According to Lockheed Martin, the makers of the solar arrays, they are
the largest deployable space structure ever built and are by far the
most powerful electricity-producing arrays ever put into orbit, at
least in our solar system. They are also among the most expensive:
Lockheed Martin built eight of the solar arrays under a $450 million
contract. Two of the solar arrays were installed in late 2000, and the
remaining solar arrays will be installed in upcoming space shuttle
missions. See the press release from Lockheed Martin and
detailed information about the shuttle mission from the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration.