by Staff Writers
Arlington VA (SPX) Oct 25, 2012
ATK's MegaFlex solar array was recently selected by NASA's Space Technology Program under a Game Changing Technology competition for development of the promising lightweight and compact solar array structure. ATK received a $6.4 million contract for the MegaFlex development.
MegaFlex, under development by ATK's Space Components Division in Goleta, Calif., is designed specifically to meet the anticipated power demands of 350kW and higher, with very low mass and small stowed volume for future space exploration missions using solar electric propulsion.
"We are honored to win this program to develop the future space exploration power platform for NASA," said David Shanahan, vice president and general manager of ATK Aerospace Group's Space Components Division. "This win is a result of the outstanding innovation and capabilities of our Goleta team."
NASA's 18-month Phase 1 technology development program will increase the solar array size to twice that of the MPCV UltraFlex (approximately 40 feet in diameter) and will raise the technical readiness level of the MegaFlex design through hardware development and verification testing.
ATK plans to further develop a flight-ready version of MegaFlex in preparation for a future space flight demonstration during the follow-on Phase 2 Technology Development contract.
ATK's MegaFlex solar array is based on its spaceflight-proven UltraFlex solar array family of platforms that powered NASA's Mars Phoenix Lander in 2008, is in series production of 10 wings for Orbital's Commercial Resupply Services spacecraft, and is baselined on NASA's recently announced Insight Discovery Mission to Mars awarded to Lockheed Martin.
The exceptional performance of smaller (6-foot diameter) solar arrays used to power the Phoenix Lander contributed to the Phoenix mission being extended three times.
ATK's high-strength, lightweight and compact 15kW UltraFlex solar arrays-measuring nearly 20 feet in diameter-were also selected for deployment on NASA's manned Orion Multi-purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV).
The UltraFlex technology's flight-proven reliability, fully-qualified low-mass performance and straightforward scalability to ~350kW class power levels established a credible basis from which to further develop MegaFlex to high technical readiness.
All About Solar Energy at SolarDaily.com
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