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NASA to Send Israeli Solar Generator to International Space Station – Israel News



  NASA Sends Israeli Solar Power Generator to International Space Station

Review of the complete installation for testing under NASA's International Space Station Experiment.
(Photo credit: BEN GURION UNIVERSITY OF NEGEV)

A new prototype miniaturized solar generator developed in Israel will be shipped by NASA to the International Space Station in its first launches in 2020. The new generator was designed by Ben-Gurion University by the Negev Professor Emeritus Gordon Gordon through research assistance from the Department of Science, Technology and Space ̵

1; and from its US counterparts from Pennsylvania State University, the University of Illinois, George Washington University, the US Naval Laboratory, HNU Syste ms and Northwestern University. Its design and verification have been published in Optics Express .

The prototype consists of a compact, low-mass glass-shaped solar concentrator that is coupled to the monolithic integration of transfer-printed micro-scale solar cells. Each of these cells consists of many different materials that in tandem with each other can effectively and efficiently exploit and use the solar spectrum.

In particular, it has been shown that the generator provides unprecedented specific power while having liberal optical tolerance when it comes to accommodation errors: in particular errors from the Sun's orientation, structural vibrations and thermal distortions.


The new generator is 1.7 mm thick. and has 0.65 mm. solar panels. However, the team is currently working on a second-generation model, which should further increase power and be based on the use of solar panels, which are only about a quarter of its width (0.17 mm.), And this is currently being developed at the US Naval Research Laboratory. For comparison, the thickness of a sheet of paper is just slightly more than half that of 0.1 mm. As the dimensions of the solar concentrator are scaled in size, this second-generation generator will have a total thickness of less than 1 mm.

The prototype will be shipped to the ISS at NASA's first launch in 2020 to test it properly in space, taking into account the effects of space radiation and extreme temperature changes. After testing the integrity and stability of the generator in space, future models will be used by space agencies for missions requiring high power for electric propulsion and for deep space missions.

However, one small step for public space agencies is one giant leap for private space missions

Unlike state-funded space initiatives, for which cost is a minor issue, cost is absolutely important for private space missions missions. While private space corporations have reduced start-up costs, solar generators now represent a much larger share of the total cost of the system. As a result, the need to develop and implement an effective, cost-effective solar energy solution for the multi-billion dollar rapidly expanding private space market is becoming more pressing.

The generator will not be the first Israeli-developed invention to be sent to space by NASA. Last week, the agency sent AstroRad radiation vests to the ISS, carrying the station's Israeli flag for the first time in history. The vests were hailed as critical to future missions that would aim to establish a sustainable human presence on the moon, as well as missions sending astronauts to Mars.

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