U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Solar Energy Technologies Program – News
Shuttle Visit Adds More Solar Power to the Space Station
June 13, 2007
The International Space Station (ISS) received an additional boost in
its solar power capacity on June 12th, as the latest space shuttle
mission, STS-117, added another set of solar panels. Following its
launch on Friday, June 8th, STS-117 rendezvoused with the ISS on Sunday, June 10th. On
Monday, June 11th, a truss carrying the new solar panels was removed from the
shuttle bay and installed on the starboard side of the ISS. The
shuttle crew then made the electrical connections for the new solar
panels that afternoon and unfurled the two sets of solar panels
on Tuesday, June 12th.
Astronaut Robert L. Curbeam Jr. works to free a stuck solar panel during shuttle mission STS-116 in December 2006.
Starting on June 13th, the crew has the unenviable task of retracting a solar array
that was installed on the ISS in 2000. Last year, STS-116 had
considerable difficulty retracting the port "P6" solar array to allow
the new port solar panels to rotate freely. This year, STS-117 is
retracting the starboard "P6" solar array to allow the new starboard
array to rotate. The STS-117 crew has a number of tools developed by
the previous mission to help them with their task, but just in case,
the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has allowed
up to three days to fold up the solar array into its storage box. See
the NASA Shuttle Web page,
the STS-117 mission description,
the "ISS Assembly Sequence"
animated video, and this newsletter's coverage of last year's
The new starboard solar panels add another 66 kilowatts of power,
increasing the power available to the ISS by about 50 percent.
STS-120, scheduled for October, will move the P6 to the port end of
the ISS and redeploy the solar arrays, adding another 66 kilowatts of
power, and STS-119, which currently lacks a launch date, will carry
the fourth and final set of solar arrays to the ISS. See the
"Future Assembly Sequence,"
the "Integrated Truss Structure," and
the "Integrated Truss Structure Interactive" on the NASA Web site.