A space technology team led by Entech, Inc., has been awarded a $1,825,000 contract from NASA to develop a unique solar array for powering future satellites and spacecraft. The new solar array uses flexible, ultra-light lenses to focus sunlight onto high-efficiency solar cells, achieving unprecedented performance.
NASA has already tested a prototype of the new Entech solar array with a record 27.4% efficiency converting sunlight to electricity. This efficiency is more than double the efficiency of the recently deployed solar arrays on the International Space Station. In addition, the new array is much lighter than previous space solar arrays, providing five times more power per pound than the International Space Station arrays.
The Entech contract resulted from a highly competitive procurement for advanced technology developments for future NASA missions. A total of 1,229 proposals were submitted to NASA in numerous technology areas, but only 111 proposals (1 of every 11) were selected for funding.
NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio, has awarded the prime contract to Entech, who will be supported by a world-class team of organizations. 3M, St. Paul, MN, will provide the flexible lenses. Spectrolab, a subsidiary of Boeing, Sylmar, CA, will provide the high-efficiency solar cells. AEC-ABLE Engineering Company, Santa Barbara, CA, will provide the mechanical and structural portions of the array. In addition to these industrial organizations, NASA Glenn Research Center and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL, will provide technical guidance and testing support throughout the three-year program.
Entech, Inc., is a privately held company, incorporated in 1983. Entech has developed a number of unique, patented, high-performance products, all related to the efficient conversion and utilization of solar energy. Entech products include solar electric generation equipment for ground-based power plants, solar power arrays for spacecraft, and collimating tubular skylights for buildings.
In the space technology area, Entech made the 720 lenses used on NASA's Deep Space One spacecraft, launched in 1998. With the solar arrays still performing flawlessly, Deep Space One is now more than 200 million miles from Earth on its way to a comet encounter later this year.
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Lockheed Martin's Solar Arrays Will Brighten Space Station
Sunnyvale - Nov. 27, 2000
The first of four pairs of massive solar arrays for the International Space Station, built at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, will be launched aboard the space shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station on November 30, 2000.
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